Students at West Lothian College have created an outdoor wellbeing space on the campus by repurposing a former smoking area. The college went smoke and vape free last summer, leaving a shelter out of use and in danger of becoming an eyesore.

Health and social care students needed to complete an enterprise unit as part of their course and decided to work together to design and build something for everyone at the college to benefit from.

Guided by their lecturer Marion Darling, and with support from construction lecturer Julia Howard, they transformed a mossy and disregarded part of the college grounds into a welcoming mindful space.

Students converted shelters into seating and planting areas, created outdoor seats and tables, and made beautiful decorations. Now, all students and staff can take advantage of this outdoors space to relax, unwind and re-energise.

The students made furniture using items that were destined for landfill - wooden pallets, electrical cable drums, and trees that had been felled and were going to be used as firewood. They created large chalkboards to display information on local mental health support groups, and they made yoga areas and chill-out spaces.

Lecturer Marion Darling said:

“Each year, we normally run anti-stigma campaigns on how mental health is discussed and treated. This year, when so many of us have experienced challenges around our own mental health as a result of the pandemic, we decided to create an outdoor space that fostered wellbeing.

“Most of these students had never held drills, hammers or saws but they poured their hearts into this project. They really embraced the hard work and challenge of turning the space into a welcoming area for wellbeing.”

Principal Jackie Galbraith added:

“At West Lothian College we want to lead with vision and empathy and this is exactly what these students and our lecturers have done. They took a vision for an outdoor wellbeing space, motivated by an empathy for those struggling with anxiety or poor mental health, and made it a reality! This brilliant work by Marion and her students has created a space that will help students and staff stay stay mentally well by benefiting from a mindful outdoor space.”