Tucked away in a corner of our Headingley Campus, behind our Queenswood building, is the Landscape Resource Centre. Affectionately known as the 'Secret Garden,' it's one of the most biodiverse sites on campus and has a rich heritage of landscaping features that could be straight out of the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The garden is a communal space on campus, where university staff can come together to enjoy some time outdoors and meet colleagues in person. During the height of remote working, our Procurement team made a commitment to spend time in the garden in order to look after their own and each other’s wellbeing.

What started as making the most of an opportunity to meet colleagues in person, quickly developed into a joint effort to look after the space and help the Sustainability team with gardening tasks.

Sarah Coll, Head of Procurement at Leeds Beckett, says there were two aspects to the activity, sustainability and mental health: “It was a great way to get people together outside, which made a significant difference in wellbeing, especially for people who were feeling isolated at the time, and getting used to the challenges of working from home.”

Improvement in mental health and work-life balance was the key benefit to the activity in the Secret Garden, according to Sarah: “Wellbeing was key. It was a great way to stay connected to the university while being in a different environment.”

4 in 10

Adults in the UK said that visiting green and natural spaces had been more important to their wellbeing during the pandemic. Source: gov.uk

To make the most of the space and create a sense of purpose in the team outside of work responsibilities, Procurement colleagues engaged in a special team-building activity: building hedgehog houses and bat boxes and spreading them around Headingley Campus.

This active team effort contributed towards the Hedgehog Friendly Campus Silver award that our university received in 2022.

The Secret Garden is a safe place for our university community where they can enjoy a sense of wellbeing and creativity. It can be used for outdoor teaching and team meetings, while continually improving the biodiversity on campus.

Using our outdoor spaces to support staff wellbeing and strengthen colleagues’ sense of belonging to their teams, services, and the university overall, reinforces our strategy to create a whole-university approach to mental health, as a member of the University Mental Health Charter.

To find out more about our activity as part of the Mental Health Charter, please visit our website.

Interested in booking the Secret Garden?

Book via CMISgo.

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