A community group is using funding seized from criminals to create a welcoming entrance to North-East Wales’ largest hospital. 

Wrexham Community Gardeners, which started in September 2023 and brings together more than 25 volunteers aged from 10 to 70, was one of the recent winners of Your Community, Your Choice funding for their ‘First Impressions’ project at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Your Community, Your Choice helps support grass-roots projects across North Wales and is supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT), the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, and North Wales Police. The funding for Your Community, Your Choice comes partly from money seized by the courts through the Proceeds of Crime Act, with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner. 

The group's purpose is to improve and maintain the courtyards and other green spaces at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for the benefit of all patients, staff and visitors. 

And the particular project that received funding, ‘First Impressions’, aims to renovate and plant the green areas around the three principle entrances to the hospital – the Main Entrance, Emergency Department Entrance and Entrance B. 

After speaking with the hospital estates department, hospital security and managers, these areas were identified as needing improvement to create a better first impression and welcome to the site, encouraging a calmer and more attractive arrival for all.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin visited the group on Tuesday, accompanied by PCSO Gethin Thomas from North Wales Police, to see the project underway and to hear more about the group’s successes and determination to maintain and improve the hospital site. 

While there, the PCC met Group Chair Ruth Tesdale, fellow volunteers and representatives from the hospital.

Ms Tesdale said: “Gardens and gardening benefit health, and through collaboration with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Wrexham Community Gardeners are working to create wellbeing and therapeutic gardens at Wrexham Maelor Hospital to benefit patients and staff. 

“Using the funding generously donated by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, PACT and North Wales Police, we are enhancing the entrances with gardens to lift the spirits of everyone arriving. 

"We feel privileged to have this opportunity to help a hospital that touches lives and holds a special place in the hearts of everyone in the community.”

Mr Dunbobbin said: “A crucial part of my plan for policing and fighting crime in North Wales is supporting communities and the group of volunteer gardeners at Wrexham Maelor Hospital are community spirit personified.

“It was a pleasure to visit them and to learn about their hard work to create a more attractive welcome for everyone visiting, working, or being treated at the hospital.”