Northern Ireland Prison Service Transform Garden Space for Children Living with Cancer

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Prison staff, with the help of the men in their care in Maghaberry Prison, have been working to redevelop a garden for children and young people living with cancer.

The project which is supported by the Cancer Fund for Children will transform the charity’s Therapeutic Centre at Daisy Lodge, which is nestled at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

It has been funded thanks to a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund and is being delivered in partnership, by staff and the men in their care from the Horticulture Department of Maghaberry who make the furniture at the Prison, which is then transported to Daisy Lodge .

Together, volunteers have cleared, built, and installed an archery lane and play area, a night line and a composite decked seating area with bespoke garden furniture. This area will be ideal for group work activities, aided by the recently installed atmospheric lighting and breakout area. A beautiful, handcrafted door and roped handrail made by volunteers at Maghaberry Prison leads into the new magical Narnia garden.

Speaking about the charity’s benefits of the partnership with the Northern Ireland Prison Service Raph O’Connor, Cancer Fund for Children’s Residential Services Manager said,

“We are so thankful to The National Lottery Community Fund for their vision in funding this project, which is really about great partnership working. Research has shown that time spent outdoors can significantly help emotional wellbeing which is the ethos of our support. Before commencing this redevelopment project, we consulted children and young people and they informed us of the importance of making the outside space at our residential log cabin more enjoyable and user friendly. We listened to their feedback and were delighted that the NIPS came on board to make this a reality.”

“They have also been supported throughout this project by some of our own staff, volunteers and charity partners and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave up their time or donated gifts in kind to make this garden project happen.”

Cancer Fund for Children services includes residential group support which provides young people impacted by cancer with an opportunity to rebuild their confidence through vital peer support. Not only will children and young people supported by Cancer Fund for Children benefit from the garden project, but it has given the men who currently reside at Maghaberry Prison a chance to utilise their skills and talents to give back to their community in a purposeful manner.

Speaking about the impact the garden project has had on the men in his care Keiran Magennis Residential Governor at Maghaberry Prison added,

“The relationship between Maghaberry Prison and the Cancer Fund for Children dates back to 2018 when we initially created and sold hanging baskets to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause.  Over the years it has been exciting to see how our partnership has grown to deliver this bespoke garden which will have a positive impact on families living with cancer, allowing them to utilise this redeveloped garden space to its full potential.

Being involved in this project has given the men in our care an opportunity to work together, learn new skills through constructive activity and have a real sense of achievement in making a difference. It has also provided them the opportunity to remain a part of the community, rather than apart from it and to make a positive contribution to society with supervision from prison staff coming up to their release.”

Paul Sweeney, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund’s NI Committee said,

“We were delighted to be able to fund this project which is providing a valued outdoor space for families to meet while promoting an important partnership with HM Prison Maghaberry, that is also supporting the wellbeing and skills development of those doing the garden work.”

“Thanks to over £30 million raised by National Lottery players each week, we continue to support projects that are making a big different to communities across Northern Ireland.”

Once fully completed Cancer Fund for Children’s is aiming to open the new Narnia Garden in Spring 2022.


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