Vote for Thurrock Mind in community project

THURROCK Mind are asking for just a minute of your time so that you can vote for them in a community fund project.

So here is a word or two from Thurrock Mind.

Go to https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-6411

Thurrock MInd Viva

Stepping Stones Garden Project has been firmly embedded in the local community; for over 30 years supporting people with mental health problems. There is a garden nursery, allotments and community gardening service and links with the local college to gain horticulture qualifications.

The health benefits of gardening are well recognised, and have a positive impact on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Based on an asset based community development approach, we will draw on the collective gifts, knowledge, skills, and experience of individuals within the borough, through developing this project to include people;
• with mental health problems
• likely to develop mental health problems
• who have other disabilities / multiple disabilities
• from under-represented groups
• who are in recovery from substance misuse
• who have been involved with the criminal justice system
• who are socially isolated
• long term unemployed
• who have an interested in gardening and would like to get involved in volunteering

A full time (37.5hr) Gardening Support Worker would support this development. Stepping Stones is open 9-5; 5 days per week (September-April), 7 days a week (May-August). There will be two 3 hour sessions daily; Monday to Friday for groups of up to 12 people per session. Groups will have different objectives, examples include groups to;

• explore their abilities in a supportive, workplace style setting that enables them to work towards vocational goals and aspirations at their own pace, without fear of rejection.
• support older people to lead a more active and fulfilling life
• provide an environment that is suitable for people with limited mobility to actively participate.
• have a structured timeline involved in gardening can also be extremely beneficial for those who no longer have the day to day rhythm of a working routine.

This would enable people to;
• become active outdoors
• feel included and less isolated

Beyond the physical, there are many other health benefits to gardening:
• Gardening can also help with the development of social and intellectual skills, including those needed for social inclusion or rehabilitation.
• A garden can provide an oasis of calm and somewhere peaceful to escape to, helping restore a sense of balance and wellbeing.
• Planting colourful flowers in borders, wooden troughs or windowsill boxes can impact on the well-being of the general public and affect mood and behaviour.

Being encouraged to be included and to feel less isolated, seeing the development of their work in growing plants, fruit and vegetables contributes to improved self- esteem and self- confidence while giving purpose to the individual’s day.

Service users working alongside volunteers in the community helps to tackle the stigma of mental health and raise awareness of its precedence. We enhance the environment of our town in public and civil areas. Service users provide a valued service to the community, and this in turn increases their self- esteem and aids in their recovery.

The project encompasses the recognised ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give). Current participants say in addition to increasing their physical activity, their mental wellbeing has improved. It provides routine and structure; they feel valued and have a sense of purpose. They report: looking forward to their day, improved mood (feeling less depressed and anxious), hopefulness for the future, increased confidence, making friends and valuing the social contact, enjoying nature. They build resilience, get time out from stresses and problems, sleep better, can talk about their problems and get support from others with similar experiences, develop social skills and get involved in their community.

Horticulture has widespread appeal and provides a means for people to unite and participate equally regardless of faith, age, gender, fitness level, ability and ethnicity.

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