John Boyd

Tackling mental health through horticulture

John Boyd, winner of Lantra Scotland’s Horticulture Learner of the Year Award, is putting his love of landscape gardening to good use at In-Work Enterprises Ltd., by providing mental health sufferers with access to horticulture and landscaping.

In-Work provides adults suffering from depression and other mental health problems with skills training through a series of imaginative horticulture projects, boosting wellbeing, tackling social exclusion, and developing skills for future employment amongst disadvantaged communities across Glasgow. 

John originally did a six-month placement at In-work Enterprises Ltd., through Inverclyde Community Development Trust’s Future Jobs programme, where he developed new skills in horticulture and improved his chances of finding work.

He then went on to complete a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 in Horticulture through Glasgow Clyde College while at In-Work Enterprises Ltd.

Apprenticeships combine practical work with study, supported by a college or other training provider. This unique blend of theory and practice prepares trainees for the working environment, as well as providing an effective way for employers to develop new talent. Lantra Scotland, the land-based, environment and aquaculture sector skills council, issues certificates to successful trainees and ensures that apprenticeships meet the needs of industry.

John impressed his managers so much during his apprenticeship that they created a new, permanent role for him, an opportunity he has grasped enthusiastically.

“I’ve been really lucky recently, not only to have the opportunity to work with disadvantaged people, but also to win the prize for best horticulture learner at Lantra Scotland’s awards in March. That was one of the proudest moments of my life and I feel it’s got my career off to a great start.

Moving from having limited employment prospects to where I am now, has been huge for me. I get tremendous satisfaction helping and inspiring people with mental health issues through In-Work. Our projects bring so much colour and inspiration to people’s lives, giving them purpose and a focus that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It is truly inspirational.”

John said: “Everyone gets a big sense of satisfaction from taking part in projects, particularly when they see the difference they make. The main thing is giving people some structure and taking their minds off some of the difficult issues they face on a day-to-day basis. We are also providing them with useful skills which should improve their employability.”

Horticulture has been widely recognised as a highly effective way to tackle mental health issues, as it improves people’s quality of life and helps them to connect with others. This reduces feelings of isolation and exclusion, while providing a sense of purpose and achievement. The limited skills required by beginners mean that horticulture is accessible to almost anyone, irrespective of their previous experience with garden work or landscaping.

John explains how his work is giving people a brighter future:

“I supervise groups of people who are referred to us by different agencies within the Inverclyde area. Some struggle with social interaction, but being around other people all working on the same task is a great way to break the ice. I aim to help them work to the best of their abilities and provide guidance and support if they’re struggling with practical tasks.

All my trainees have some form of mental health issues and the work that I do with them can help with their therapy. I really do love my job.”

Allan Maliska, John’s Manager at In-Work Enterprises Ltd. said:

Doing the Modern Apprenticeship helped John immensely in developing an overall vision of our industry. He’s also very keen to further his personal development skills by doing more courses and gaining further awards within horticulture.

Throughout the year, he’s involved in a range of environmental enhancement works, seasonal bedding plant production, shrub propagation, ground maintenance works, and soft and hard landscaping.

I’m delighted that his goal is to widen his experience and pass his skills onto the other people he deals with at In-work.

Kevin Patrick, Director of Lantra Scotland said:

“John was a worthy winner of our learner of the year award for horticulture and it’s great to see him progress in his chosen career. Modern Apprenticeships in this industry are very popular with employers, as they give trainees a great grounding in the skills that businesses need. You can find out more about the benefits to employers and employees of doing them at


John Boyd
John Boyd