News Archive June 2022
Our GreenCare gardener overcomes anxiety to blossom at Chelsea Flower Show
One of our GreenCare gardeners, Sharon, has been praised for her courage after overcoming anxiety to volunteer at the Chelsea Flower Show in May.
Ipswich-based Sharon was unable to leave her flat alone before being referred to Suffolk Mind’s GreenCare service in 2019, which uses allotments as a tool to improve mental health and promote discussion about wellbeing.
Those boundaries were broken last month however, after she blossomed as a volunteer at Mind’s garden at this year’s show in the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Sharon travelled to the show on her own, meeting Suffolk GreenCare service manager Sarah Manton-Roseblade in London.
“It was an amazing day,” Sarah said. “Sharon spoke so openly with people about how gardening can help improve your mental health, handed out leaflets and really got engaged.
“She loved learning about all the plants and sharing her own experiences at our allotment.
“She’s been so happy since and has even written to the Royal Horticultural Society to say thank you – she would love to go and do it again.”
This was Sharon’s first solo trip to the capital, although the GreenCare service had already inspired her to travel to Cambridge alone to see Chris Packham on stage.
Sarah said she hopes Sharon’s story will inspire other members of the Ipswich allotment group.
She said: “To think that Sharon wasn’t able to leave her flat three years ago and can now take the train to London on her own and talk so passionately with people, it is amazing.
“It was so nice to see her enjoy herself and how far she has come. It is so rewarding to have seen her from the very beginning of her journey to where she is now.
“Mind have been kind enough to donate some of the plants from the display to us, which we’re going to plant together at our next session.
“It will be so lovely to see as they’ll show the story of everything Sharon has gone through to get to where she is now.”
The garden was designed by eight-time CFS winner Andy Sturgeon, who is a firm believer in the power gardens provide as a refuge during life’s difficulties.
“The garden was absolutely beautiful,” Sarah added. “Sadly it didn’t win Best Show Garden, but I think it deserved it. It really highlighted the effect gardening can have on mental health.
“All in all, it was a brilliant day.”
Sarah’s role is funded thanks to the generosity of local people supporting Suffolk Mind. More information on Suffolk Mind’s GreenCare service and how to donate or get involved can be found here.
Author: Beren Reid
Posted on: 21st June 2022
Volunteers’ Week 2022: How GreenCare has been an ‘oasis’ for one of our gardeners
As part of Volunteers’ Week 2022, Claire Stone, one of our glorious GreenCare gardeners, shares her experience of volunteering with our allotment project.
Keen gardener Claire Stone has been volunteering with Suffolk Mind’s GreenCare service for three years, offering support to service users looking to find their green thumb.
The service runs three allotments across Suffolk, using gardening as a means to improve the mental health and wellbeing of its users.
Claire, who volunteers at the Ipswich allotment, said she has never looked back since her first session in July 2019.
She said: “I remember seeing a feature on Gardeners’ World about how gardening can boost mental health, and I thought it’s something I’d like to get involved in.
“I went to my first session and found it to be an oasis. I love being out in nature as it helps clear my mind – but having the ability to help other people is amazing.
“Over the years I have got to see people’s confidence grow. We have people who really look forward to coming down and have made genuine friends here.
“The gardeners talk to one another about their lives and help each other through their challenges. It is lovely to see.”
Claire’s tasks this year included helping the gardeners build a new herb bed, with the group now enjoying cups of mint tea using the herbs they have grown.
Later plans include planting pumpkins and squashes.
Suffolk Mind is looking for more volunteers like Claire to help support people in improving their mental health.
Claire added: “The great thing about volunteering is that you help other people, as well as helping yourself.
“I really look forward to every session. It is great to see everyone and it is just so rewarding – I would definitely recommend it.”
If you’d like to join us as a volunteer, take a look at a list of our current opportunities here.
To find out more about our GreenCare service, please click here.
Author: Beren Reid
Posted on: 1st June 2022