We have funded a special guide to help staff, patients and visitors discover, explore and enjoy the green spaces at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre for rest, relaxation and wellbeing.

The Space to Breathe Map details the unique wild spaces that can be found on the Mount Vernon site, including ancient woodland, a wildflower meadow, a fern garden and a wildlife pond. Also included are suggested walking routes and seating areas, spaces for outdoor meetings and a guide to the butterflies, birds and mammals that can be seen and heard on the woodland walk.

As well as printed copies of the map, staff, patients and visitors can access the map online on the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust website and a QR code will be available in the cancer centre itself.  

Louise, the wife of John, a patient at the Cancer Centre, said: “I really appreciated the green spaces at Mount Vernon whilst John was undergoing his treatment.

“Walking around them each day offered space to think and process my thoughts; the woodland walk around the formal lawn was a lovely space to take a stroll, and highlights were seeing foxes and a muntjac, with a reliable tuneful birdsong as the musical score in the background.

“Thank you to the team for making this a perfect place of calmness during a challenging chapter in my life.”

Trisha Webbe, Assistant Director of Cancer Services at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre said: “We know that connecting with nature and enjoying green spaces and fresh air is recognised as being vitally important for mental health and wellbeing.

“This fantastic new guide will really help our patients and staff benefit from closer contact with the natural world and improve their wellbeing.”

The Space to Breathe Map is part of ongoing sustainability work outlined in the Trust’s Green Plan to increase and improve green spaces across all hospital sites. Other projects at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre have included the creation of a fern garden outside the chemotherapy suite, a woodland walk and wildflower meadow, and new seating areas for patients and staff.

Development of the map involved colleagues from across Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, including many individual staff members who shared comments and details of their walks and named the greenspaces they enjoy. This included: the hospital’s sustainability network, the estates and facilities team and the Comfort Fund charity shops in ‘The Village’ at the centre of the Mount Vernon site.

The Space to Breathe Map was designed and produced by Marles and Barclay, and background research and staff engagement was conducted by Kate Targett in collaboration with NHS Forests.