September 27, 2023

University of Oxford students Jools, Zainab and Maisie spend their summer internship with Horatio’s Garden

This summer, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming University of Oxford students Jools, Zainab, and Maisie to the Horatio’s Garden team. Over the course of the past few months, they’ve been busy visiting our horticultural havens across the UK to find out how our gardens make a difference to people adjusting to life-changing spinal injuries. 

Beginning their summer internship in Horatio’s Garden South West, it wasn’t long before Jools, Zainab and Maisie parted ways to travel to two of our six gardens: Jools split her time between our Stoke Mandeville and Wales gardens; Zainab between our Stoke Mandeville and London gardens; and Maisie between our Scotland and Midlands gardens. 

Spending a few weeks at a time in each location, Jools, Zainab, and Maisie got to know patients, their loved ones, NHS staff, and the charity’s staff and volunteers. Being naturally warm and friendly, the three soon became a familiar part of the team, welcoming and chatting to everyone enjoying our gardens. 

In amongst spending time with as many people as possible, Jools, Zainab, and Maisie also fulfilled the purpose of their internship, which was to carry out vital research into the ways in which Horatio’s Garden positively benefits people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

Together, the three collected an enormous number of responses from patients, their visitors, and NHS staff, all attesting to the ameliorative impact felt by beneficiaries when spending time in our beautiful, accessible, restorative gardens. 

Jools, Zainab, and Maisie also spoke with people at length to gain an even greater understanding of the importance of nature and greenspaces in healthcare settings. Many of the people they spoke with generously agreed to share their stories, supporting the three’s considerable quantitative research with considerate anecdotal evidence. 

Below you’ll find a few kind words from Jools, Zainab, and Maisie about their experiences this summer: 

“Working with Horatio’s Garden this summer has made the weeks fly by! It has been such a great opportunity to visit different places across the UK, meeting so many wonderful people whilst also learning so much about spinal injury and what can be done to accommodate those in wheelchairs. The internship has taught me communication and organisational skills which I will value throughout my working life. My most memorable moments would be listening to music and having a laugh with people in a stunning garden under the beaming sun. The charity has done and continues to do amazing things and I am glad to have been a part of it.” – Jools 

“The internship has been a really enjoyable and eye-opening experience! I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about spinal cord injury rehabilitation, conduct interviews with patients and NHS staff from various backgrounds, and gain an insight into the charity sector. I think the most memorable moments for me will be the afternoons I’ve spent immersed in the foliage, aromas, and breeze of the gardens, speaking to people about their personal experiences of the beautiful spaces. I’ve seen first-hand how Horatio’s Garden is an integral part of patients’ rehabilitation and have developed a new-found appreciation for gardens!” – Zainab 

“I’ve really enjoyed my time working for Horatio’s Garden. Seeing the impact of the gardens first-hand and hearing the testimonials of all the patients they help, has been as unforgettable experience. I hope to work in an NGO in the future, so I also found that learning more about how the charity works behind the scenes was really valuable for me. The most memorable aspect of the internship was definitely talking to the patients themselves. I met a lot of great people, and I wish them all the best for the future.” – Maisie 

Their crucial research will now form the basis of the charity’s Impact Report 2023, which will be available online soon. 

Although the three’s summer with Horatio’s Garden has now sadly come to an end, we are delighted to share that The Internship Office at University of Oxford has once again generously recognised the charity as a Gold Standard Internship Host in 2023! The award acknowledges the excellent internship experience provided by Horatio’s Garden and our exceptional commitment, quality, consistency, and responsiveness. 

We are so grateful to Jools, Zainab, and Maisie for all their incredible, thoughtful work this summer and very much look forward to seeing them thrive over the coming years.

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