Delivered in partnership with trusted organisations, the new locations are at Ferndown with the Growing Compassionate Communities initiative; Shillingstone with The Big Yellow Bus Project; and Shaftesbury based at Abbey View GP Surgery in connection with Shaftesbury in Bloom and the Blackmore Vale surgeries.
The local charity champions a whole-community effort. All produce grown at the new allotments will go to local foodbanks or communities. Residents at Moretons Abbeyfield Wessex Care Home are assisting the local project by planting seeds and nurturing seedlings, ready for growing at the Ferndown Dementia Friendly allotments.
Ecotherapy and wellbeing
Ecotherapy is known to support better wellbeing – gardening just twice a week improves wellbeing and relieves stress according to BBC’s Science Focus. National Mind describes ecotherapy as a ‘formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature.’ The Dorset branch of Mind deliver on their allotments.
The charity has seen positive outcomes from work on their established allotments in Dorchester and Weymouth. When supporting local adults and young people – 100% of participants’ mood were improved or maintained over 81 sessions (2021/22). And, 100% people would recommend Eco in Mind’s support. Activities are base around the evidence-based Five Ways to Wellbeing – that are proven steps to increase wellbeing including getting active, connecting, taking notice, learning, and giving back.
Feedback like the following was received recently from one of our regular adult participants. He lives with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and struggles with the thought of germs. But he was able to sow seeds with our facilitator, which was huge progress. His mum told us, “It was a big step for him today. I know it’s given him a boost. He said he felt really anxious before he started, but it went away and he’s really proud of himself. Small steps.”
Expanding our reach
Sharon Best, Eco in Mind Development Coordinator says, “I am pleased Eco in Mind will reach more people across Dorset. We want to support people such as carers, paramedics, Blue Light workers. This is alongside adult sessions in community growing spaces and a medical centre. This expansion will demonstrate how following the Five Ways to Wellbeing outside in nature supports mental wellbeing in the community.”
Linda O’Sullivan, Dorset Mind CEO says, “Echoing what Sharon says, connection and being outside in nature are proven to fundamentally improve people’s wellbeing. By collaborating with partners in different locations, we can develop what we’ve learnt from serving Dorchester and Weymouth. And roll this impactful service out across the county, helping normalise the conversation about mental health in our communities.”
Dr Andy Mayers, Dorset Mind Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University adds, “I am delighted to see the expansion of Eco in Mind. The benefits of using nature to boost mental wellbeing are clear, but this is also an opportunity to teach environmentally friendly methods to grow produce. Everyone’s a winner!”
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Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.