A bloomin’ great donation helps out Sligo charity


The soon to be opened mental health initiative Flourish is about to become a lot more colourful thanks to garden donations from Bord Bia Bloom.

lourish is a community project being developed at the former garden centre in Ballytivnan in collaboration with the HSE and mental health charity Havin’ a Laugh.

The site, which hopes to open in September, will act as a welcoming space that provides facilities to meet with volunteers, join in with activities and events, or to simply have a cup of tea free of any stigma.

The location will include a café, therapeutic gardens, and other community support and resources.

Havin’ a Laugh founder Bláithín Sweeney says they are incredibly grateful for the generous donation of two ‘Dream Garden’ designs from Bord Bia Bloom as it not only constitutes a large donation, but it also allows the Flourish initiative to be viewed on a national scale.

“Carol Marks is on the board of Bord Bia and very much involved with the Bloom Festival, she saw the new project Flourish and that sparked an idea for her,” Bláithín said.

“Bloom has two gardens sponsored by Bord Bia themselves and during the lockdown they couldn’t have a big festival, so they set out an easy plan to ‘transform your own garden’.

Lots of people did their own garden designs and the best two were featured by Bord Bia. It’s the plants and hard structures from those two gardens that are now being donated to Flourish.”

The two gardens are “The Nature Enthusiasts” by Jane McCorkell and “And the Shared Spaces Family Garden” by Nicola Haines.

Bláithín says she thinks it is very fitting that Bord Bia thought of Flourish for this donation as the gardens really feed into their ethos of mindlessness and self-care.

Now that the plants and structures for the gardens have been delivered, volunteers will be busy at work creating the therapeutic and sensory designs, those who wish to get involved can sign up through Havin’ a Laugh’s social media.

The kitchens for the Flourish café will be arriving in the coming weeks and Bláithín says they hope to open the doors to visitors by September.

She also commended the work of local blogger and Sligo proponent Val Robus for bringing Flourish to the attention of Bord Bia.

Flourish wished to thank Sean McHale from McHales Sawmills who sponsored their time and forklift to deliver the gardens.

Flourish has been designed as a self-sustaining social enterprise but to get off the ground have been fundraising to make their dream of providing “a welcoming door for everybody” a reality.

Donations can be made through GoFundMe under the title: “Havin’ a Welcoming Front Door for Mental Health.”

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