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 this year’s Volunteers’ Week, 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
Suffolk Mind GreenCare project inspires three participants to get their own allotments
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 four allotments in Haverhill, Hadleigh, 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.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 6th December 2021
Suffolk Mind marks Mental Health Awareness Week by encouraging you to connect with nature
During Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 10 May – Sunday 16 May 2021), Suffolk Mind are releasing tips and advice to encourage people to connect with nature to improve mental health.
Suffolk Mind data shows the number of local people at risk of stress and mental ill health has more than doubled since before the coronavirus pandemic, so it is more important than ever to raise awareness of mental health.
More than half of us (55%) are not, on average, meeting our emotional needs – the key to avoiding stress and maintaining good mental health. This is up from 24.2% before the pandemic.
Throughout this week, Suffolk Mind will be encouraging people to plant seeds on their windowsills, make bird feeders, join a nature trail, pledge to take on the 100 Miles for Suffolk Mind challenge, create a bug hotel or join a movement session based around our book character, Sammy the Sea Squirt.
They will also be supporting other activities, organised by partner charities, like the Take 10 reading challenge, and the East Anglian Daily Times Welcome back to Wellbeing online event on 12 May.
Ezra Hewing, Head of Education at Suffolk Mind said: “Mental Health depends on meeting emotional needs which include the needs to share attention, to have privacy, so we can calm down and reflect, and to have meaning and purpose in our lives. We can meet these needs when we connect with nature.
“Getting away from busy lives and demands can be hard when we’re surrounded by screens and distractions. Connecting with nature can give us the privacy to be free to relax. Attention is precious, and giving attention to nature can help us slow down and return to a relaxed state.”
During the Awareness Week, our GreenCare allotment projects will be reopening after pausing in December 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Sarah Manton-Roseblade is the manager: “It’s been around 5 months since we stopped this service to keep people safe, but we are really excited to get back to supporting people in the open space.
“Our four allotments across Suffolk are places where people can feel like they really achieve something; they see the seeds that they plant, grow into beautiful flowers, fruit and vegetables. They also have the chance to chat to other participants and volunteers whilst having a well-earned cup of tea.
“We’re look forward to welcoming anyone to our groups. For more details, visit our website: www.suffolkmind.org.uk/greencare.”
The organisers of the awareness week, the Mental Health Foundation, set the ‘connect with nature’ theme after their research showed that 45% of people reported that being in green spaces has been vital for their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For tips and advice on how you can connect with nature during Mental Health Awareness Week, click here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 10th May 2021
Suffolk Mind gardening expert offers advice to help people get outdoors to help their mental health
Our Suffolk Mind gardening expert is encouraging people to get out in the garden or grow produce in their own homes to help their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarah Manton-Roseblade is the manager of the GreenCare service which is made up of four allotments across Suffolk (Hadleigh, Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich). Each site offers people the opportunity to learn about gardening and contribute to the creation of a thriving growing space that benefits everyone.
This service is currently unable to run, so we are encouraging people to get growing at home instead.
Sarah said: “Being out in the garden or growing things in your own home is a great way to meet your physical and emotional needs. It enables you to achieve something new, gives you some meaning and purpose and gently increases your activity levels too.”
Here are some handy ideas and tips to help you:
- It is sunflower season – from May you can plant Sunflower seeds directly in the ground where you want them to grow. If you don’t have a garden, from mid-April seeds can be planted in a pot and left by the windowsill. Keep them watered and as they start to grow make sure you use a stick to support them.
- Grow your own veg – it’s a great time to start growing your own vegetables. Easy vegetables to grow are things like lettuce, carrots, sugar snap peas and dwarf French beans as they don’t take up too much space in the garden. You can also grow salad leaves and pea shoots in a pot on your windowsill.
- Herbs grow well on the windowsill – things like coriander and basil (when it’s a little warmer) are great herbs to start with.
- Here are some helpful websites’ to help you grow your own produce: www.gardenorganic.org.uk and www.rhs.org.uk.
Suffolk Mind have also put together a number of resources to help people with their mental health whilst at home. Click here for more details.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 7th April 2020
The Suffolk Mind GreenCare project to celebrate the festivities by making a Christmas feast in a shed on their allotment
We may think making Christmas dinner in the comfort of our own home is difficult, well imagine preparing a Christmas feast in a shed on an allotment? That’s what the Suffolk Mind GreenCare service is doing to celebrate the festivities.
Staff, volunteers and service users at the Hadleigh allotment project make their festive fry-up annually and this year they are holding their mini Christmas day on Friday 13th December 2019.
Sarah Manton-Roseblade, GreenCare Manager said: “We always like to celebrate Christmas at the Hadleigh allotment project and what better way than to make a delicious festive fry-up. We’ll be cooking the famous pigs in blankets, brussels sprouts, carrots, eggs and fried potatoes, and for dessert there will be mince pies. It’s great to come together to celebrate the Christmas season with nice food and a good chat”.
The Suffolk Mind GreenCare project is made up of four allotments across Suffolk (Hadleigh, Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich). Each site offers people the opportunity to learn about gardening and contribute to the creation of a thriving growing space that benefits everyone. People can also make new friends and get support from other group members.
Sarah Manton-Roseblade continues: “Being on an allotment is a great way to meet your physical and emotional needs; people meet others and become part of a community, they achieve something new and it enables them to have some meaning and purpose in their life whilst gently increasing their activity levels also.”
You can self-refer to the GreenCare project or become a volunteer with us, more details here.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 10th December 2019
Suffolk Mind opens its doors to raise awareness and money for its GreenCare project
Suffolk Mind is opening its doors at its base in Bury St Edmunds (Oriental House, 5 St Andrews Street North) on Saturday 21st September between 10am and 1pm to raise awareness and money for its vital GreenCare project.
GreenCare is a service which runs four allotment projects across Suffolk, including in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Haverhill and Hadleigh. They are places where people can come together as a group to improve their physical and mental health by gently increasing their activity levels, working alongside others.
Greencare Manager, Sarah Manton-Roseblade said: “For many of our participants this may be the only day of the week where they meet with others. Coming to our allotments gives people a sense of meaning and purpose, achievement and enables them to feel part of a community. They can grow produce, learn more about gardening and just enjoy a cup of tea.
“Anyone can self-refer for the GreenCare service, just visit our website.
In feedback received from a Suffolk Mind evaluation, a participant said: “GreenCare has allowed me to practice socialising and building skills in anticipation of returning to work at some point. It is a safe space within which I am rebuilding my confidence to help me improve working skills in the future. I do not know of any other service that could provide me with such a safe space.”
Our GreenCare project is one of the hardest to source funding for; every year we need to raise £12,000 in order to provide a professional and safe environment that participants can benefit from. That’s why we are hosting a ‘Doors Open Day’ at our office in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 21st September between 10am and 1pm. It’s also a chance to showcase the wider work of Suffolk Mind.
Join us for:
- A plant sale with produce from our allotments
- Children’s fun activities
- An art display by our art group
- A community art project
- A raffle with excellent prizes
- Free tea, coffee and cake
- And learn more about what we do and why we do it!
There’s no need to book to attend the ‘Doors Open Day’. It is being held at Oriental House, 5 St Andrews Street North, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1TZ.
Author: Ellie Winch
Posted on: 18th September 2019