Our GreenCare project inspires three participants to get their own allotments

by Suffolk Mind Team | 06 Dec 2021

A project run by Suffolk Mind has been so inspiring for three of its participants that they have been encouraged to get their own allotments, to benefit their mental health.

Suffolk Mind’s GreenCare project includes allotments in Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich which offer people the opportunity to learn about gardening and contribute to the creation of a thriving growing space that benefits everyone.

Sharon has been attending the allotment project in Ipswich for three and a half years. Before she came along to the group, she was unable to go out because she had bad anxiety. She said: “I was getting anxious and my life was going nowhere, I was too scared to go out and meet people, I couldn’t even go into town without having anxiety. I used to feel sick when I was in a crowd.”

“I read a lot about gardening and mental health, and I found the GreenCare project on the Suffolk Mind website. Since coming here, I’ve got the confidence to do things that I never thought I’d do. I still do have difficult days, but they’re not so common now, or as severe.”

“Coming to the group inspired me to get my own allotment as I felt so good after spending just a few hours here, I really wanted to do more of it. It is so amazing growing your own things, I feel so happy and am bouncing with energy after a few hours on my allotment.”

Claire is a volunteer on our Ipswich allotment project and feels such a great sense of achievement from coming along to the group to support others. She said: “I saw something wonderful on a television programme about the link between gardening and mental health and I wanted to get involved in something to make a difference. It’s great to see the magic of seeing things grow, you feel a real connection with nature.”

“We got our own allotment in May and it’s so peaceful, you are really concentrating on one thing at a time, so it’s a really good place to think things over or clear your head. Coming to the group helps too as I will get some advice on how to grow things and I then I go to my allotment to use those skills”.

Laura joined the allotment in Bury St Edmunds in 2019: “Attending the group has really helped my confidence. A friend spurred me to go with her, but I didn’t speak to anyone at the start, but being outside makes me feel safe. There’s no pressure on the allotment, if it gets too much, you can escape when you need to and go off and do some weeding. It is an ideal environment to get my confidence back.

“In the last three years everything has just changed, I’m working now, I have a personality and I can speak in front of people. Don’t get me wrong I still have some horrendous times, but I feel I have gained more confidence.”

Laura has put her name down for her own allotment in Bury St Edmunds. She continued: “Having my own allotment will be a good form of escapism for me and have it as my own project. There’s something in nurturing a piece of land and growing things, you feel attached to what you are growing.”

For more details about the GreenCare project, to self-refer to the service, or become a volunteer, click here.

by Suffolk Mind Team
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