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Raised allotment beds in Dorchester

PRESS RELEASE: Dorset Mind expand ecotherapy support

Dorset charity expands support across the county as ecotherapy service blossoms in Weymouth 

Dorset Mind are excited to announce they are expanding their ecotherapy service, ‘Eco in Mind!’  The charity is launching a new allotment plot in Weymouth. ‘Eco in Mind’ began life in Dorchester by offering its residents practical support whilst offering a service and a safe space for those struggling with their mental health. The outcomes are phenomenal. When asked, 100% of participants report an increase in their mood from the start to the end of the sessions. 80% of participants (attending since Jan 22) claim they have seen an improvement in their mental wellbeing. 

After huge success in Dorchester, the new service offers the people of Weymouth a chance to build their confidence, self-esteem and resilience whilst connecting them with their surroundings and their communities. Working on the allotments as a volunteer or participant will help them discover benefits of being outside and working with nature.  

As well as growing bedding and other herbaceous plants, the project also harvests numerous types of fruits and vegetables. These are then donated to local food banks for local families who need them most. Over the last year, food from the allotments helped support over 200 families in Dorchester. The charity hopes to repeat this success in Weymouth. This gives the project an additional purpose that the local community can benefit from. 

The power of rcotherapy

Dorset Mind CEO Linda O’Sullivan comments,  

‘Ecotherapy is somewhat of an unsung hero when it comes to more holistic and ‘hands on’ form of therapy for mental health. Ecotherapy is known to improve physical and mental health whilst also positively impacting mood – and reducing stress and anger. You could also say it’s a form of mindfulness. 

Additionally, Eco in Mind provides its service users with a live project, which is constantly changing and growing, meaning that our participants are actively caring and nurturing something; all whilst learning how to actively do the same for their own mental health and wellbeing.’  

Dr Andy Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth university and Dorset Mind Patron also offers,  

“I am so delighted to see this expansion of our eco therapy projects at Dorset Mind. There are so many positives in using nature to improve wellbeing, including being more mindful of our environment.  

This is something close to my own heart, having recently transformed our own garden into a haven for wildlife and growing our own produce. The result is very uplifting for my own wellbeing.” 

Our Coordinators’ comments

Eco in Mind Project Coordinator Dorchester, Sharon Best says,  

‘Our participants comments indicate the over the past few years the work Dorset Mind has delivered on an allotment site in Dorchester has made a difference to people of all ages. It is very exciting that Eco in Mind is expanding to new locations to benefit people in Dorset. Eco in Mind offers safe, structured and supported sessions, and we look forward to welcoming new participants across Dorset very soon.’ 

Eco in Mind, Project Coordinator Weymouth, Dan Bradshaw adds, 

‘The new Weymouth site is great. The best part about it is that we are at the beginning, which means that our volunteers and participants can see the transformation from what started as an overgrown field to what will be a beautiful space over the coming months and years thanks to their arduous work and commitment. There are other plots like ours, an orchard, some woodland, and forest school and there will be some classrooms and kitchen for making a product to sell to pay for the running of the site, so it is all exciting.’ 

How to attend Eco in Mind

‘Eco in Mind’ offers weekly sessions in Dorchester on Monday and Thursday mornings from 10:30am and afternoons from 12pm. The group delivers sessions on Wednesday mornings from 9am and 2pm in Weymouth. There may be other one-off sessions available ad-hoc. Please keep an eye on Dorset Mind’s social media channels for more information. 

If you are interested in participating, or would like to know more about ‘Eco in Mind’, email us at: ecoinmind@dorsetmind.uk and one of our team will be more than happy to help you. Find out more here 

Or, if you wanted to help run the sessions, the charity welcome volunteers to work on the project and help deliver this life-changing service. Please head to the volunteer vacancy page on Dorset Mind’s website for more information.

Dorset Mind would like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the project’s founders and benefactors. Mark and Claire Meyers of Meyers Estate Agents created and help fund this project in its infancy. Originally known as The GAP Project, their support enabled us to help support the mental health of Dorset residents. 

Dorset Mind delivers mental health education, training, and 1-2-1 and group support for adults and young people across Dorset. Help us fund this vital life-changing service by emailing us at: partnerships@dorsetmind.uk.

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