USERS of a vital service for people with mental health problems are celebrating after a deal was reached to secure its future.
The New Road Nurseries, based in Hellingly, faced the axe after a shake-up of NHS funding in July 2009 meant the project was at risk.
But after a year of uncertainty, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust reached a deal with community interest company Co-ops, which signed a contract to take over the ownership and running of the nurseries.
Staff and volunteers formally agreed the handover at an official ceremony last. The move will safeguard three jobs.
The nurseries play a therapeutic role in helping people with mental health difficulties recover through active pursuits such as cultivating, harvesting and selling plants and vegetables.
Care Co-ops are seeking to run the site as an environmentally-friendly plant nursery and social enterprise and hope to achieve organic status for all produce grown on the site.
They are also exploring other opportunities for the site including a café.
The Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s deputy chair Mike Viggers said, “This handover ceremony is a fantastic turning point for all involved in securing the future of these nurseries – a facility that has played such an important role in helping many recover their mental health.
“Thank you to everyone who has put so much time and effort into the handover process, especially the volunteer gardeners and staff whose commitment to ensure the nurseries’ survival has been absolutely inspiring.
“For the future, we’re excited by the potential of the nurseries as a new, green and ethical local business serving Sussex.
We are confident this is a vision that an organisation like Care Co-ops - with its long experience of community projects - can deliver.”