Growing Mental Health Recovery through Gardening

by Seed of Hope CIC in Bridgwater, Somerset, United Kingdom

Growing Mental Health Recovery through Gardening

Total raised £325

raised so far

11

supporters

Raising funds to grow Mental Health Recovery through therapeutic gardening groups in Somerset.

by Seed of Hope CIC in Bridgwater, Somerset, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 12th June 2023 we'd raised £225 with 10 supporters in 56 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

Who we are and what we do? 

Seed of Hope CIC is a not-for-profit social enterprise that helps to change the lives of people with mental health problems through Recovery based social and therapeutic horticulture. 

We run weekly therapeutic groups in Bridgwater, Watchet and Glastonbury where we meet between 10am and 4pm to engage in gardening activities and Recovery sessions in local community spaces. We grow seasonal veg using permaculture methods and maintain community spaces for others to enjoy.

1681735845_1681735844770.jpegNature based support and Recovery are intrinsic components of our work. Our neurobiology is inextricably wired to operate in nature, and thus our support and delivery model harness the benefits of reconnecting with nature and community engagement. These benefits include: Increased natural light levels which are clinically proven to enhance brain chemistry, nurturing living plants and environments, working collaboratively for a common cause, gentle exercise, socialisation and friendship, informal talking therapy in a calm, natural and safe environment and Hope!

1681734924_1681734922448.jpegWe want to nourish and grow Mental Health Recovery for people in our community. Recovery means living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life even with mental health problems. Recovery comes from a disability/human rights background and looks not so much at what a person can't do (disability) but rather at what strengths and abilities the person has. Recovery grows from a choice and is supported by people - people who have experience themselves and are Recovery navigators. We work with adults 18+ who have experienced any degree of mental distress to nurture their Recovery journeys.

Increasing Access to support 

We know (because our participants tell us) that accessing mental health services is becoming increasingly difficult. There has been a marked decline in accessibility since the Covid-19 pandemic where services have not resumed face- to-face contact for the majority and only provide impersonal video consultations for those who really need a real person to talk to and connect with. Research shows that the therapeutic relationship is responsible for 75% of the efficacy of any intervention.

1681735898_1681735897299.jpegAt Seed of Hope, we try to make our groups as accessible as possible for those who want to attend. We do not insist on referrals; instead, individuals who wish to join can make contact with us directly. We purposely do not have a waiting list because we know that the fundamental barrier for everyone trying to access support is not being able to get it when they need it in a timely manner. We do not have any eligibility criteria that restricts access to our groups therefore whether a person has been under statutory services for a number of years or has a diagnosis of severe mental illness, or if the individual is at the very start of their Recovery journey, we can support everyone.

1681736771_1681736769784.jpegWe are unique in the way we know that Recovery from mental health problems is possible, with the right support in a timely manner which meets the individuals needs and treats them like a human instead of a statistic. We contribute to change in the way in which people experience mental health services by shifting the societal attitude from believing that people are 'suffering from mental illness' to understanding that those experiencing mental distress, unusual experiences and problematic behaviour are as a result of adverse childhood experiences and trauma.  

Why are we needed? 

Statistic shows that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. It is therefore essential that there are services in place to support anyone who finds themselves unable to cope. Our project is unique in that it is Recovery based and facilitated with hope and community in mind.

1681735769_1681735767852.jpegWe know our project is needed, evidenced by the continued attendance from our participants. At our latest mid-summer meeting where all our members come together, we collected feedback and some quotes about the group include:

  • "Being out and doing things, feeling safe and having someone I know to talk to when thing get bad."
  • "Gives my week routine and gives my life an elevated meaning."
  • "I really enjoy going and Kris and the group are very friendly, and everyone is helpful."
  • "Community and like-minded people. Peer support and someone who doesn’t see me as mental."
  • "Seed of Hope has helped me find friendship." 
  • "I have found my confidence and have more appreciation for the outdoors." 
  • "Seed of Hope gives life purpose." 

We work in community facilities and not hidden away to address the stigma and discriminations faced by people in their communities. This also helps to nurture social confidence in our participants who may not otherwise leave their homes and go out in public. 

1681735972_1681735971102.jpegWe know that the problems individuals face can be life-long and we help facilitate change that people can live in Recovery meaning to have a satisfying hopeful and contributing life even with their mental health problems. In the 2019 Indices of Multiple Deprivation report, Glastonbury Center (Mendip 011A) is ranked in the 10% most deprived area in the country.

This further evidence why our project is needed because we know poverty and other social factors related to deprivation significantly impact and correlate to poor mental health and wellbeing. 

Lived experience being at the heart of what we do

Our founding director started Seed of Hope as a pathway for his own Recovery from mental health difficulties. He knew his unique experience of being trained as a mental health nurse, being regional manager for Turning Point and years working in health and social care settings with some of the most vulnerable in society were skills he could harness to help others in a way that supported his own mental health. 

1681737162_1681737162469.jpegSince 1985 Kris has worked on a number of projects outdoors in nature, growing food and gardening with people diagnosed with mental health difficulties. He developed the Time to Change regional project called 'Rethink Green Growers'. The idea for Seed of Hope had been imagined during all his professional work. The first official Seed of Hope group met in 2015 at the Walled gardens of Cannington.-

1681737254_1681737252986.jpegSince becoming incorporated in 2017, we have appointed 2 participant directors. Both have mental health diagnosis and have participated in the groups at seed of hope and wanted to take on some extra responsibility as part of their personal Recovery journeys. It is essential for us to have lived experience at the core of all decisions made for the organisations, which is why we operate as a co-operative and everyone who participates or volunteers with us can become a member of the company and have a voting right in our twice-yearly meetings.

Requirement of having at least 1 participant director is enshrined in our Articles of Association, as is our co-operative ideals. We do this to ensure that power is shared equally as we know people with mental health problems have often had power taken away from them. 

Measuring our impact 

We know that it is possible for those living with mental health problems to live a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life. The individual tailored support, being outdoors in nature, being able to get involved at their own pace and meeting other people with similar experiences creates a conducive environment to promote mental health Recovery.-

1681735309_1681735307349.jpegWe monitor mental wellbeing using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), collecting this data regularly. The data collected includes participants ability to feel optimistic about the future, ability to relax, be interested in other people, deal with problems well, think clearly, feel good about themselves, decision making skills and interested in new things.

We evaluated that our project delivers great value for money. An example of which is demonstrated through our case study of Mr P (anonymous). When he joined our group, his WEMWBS showed his mental wellbeing was "low". After eight months with us, this had changed to 'high', indicating a massive impact on his wellbeing for the better. According to the Social Value Bank, the cost to deliver this degree of impact is £9,654. We delivered this for £800, a Social Return on Investment of £12 for each £1 spent. 

Sessional Delivery

Each of our groups meet weekly, for a 6-hour day. We intend to meet for 48 weeks of the year. Totalling 48, 6-hour sessions per group. Throughout the summer when the days are warmer and longer, we often stay for much longer days. There are opportunities throughout the year for the group to meet more regularly for example when running events or attending our other groups. At absolute minimum this means that for each individual participant at our groups, we provide 864 hours of therapeutic gardening for mental health Recovery. 

Our theoretical paradigm 

Our lived experience suggests to us that there is more to our difficulties than an illness.  Our founding director Kris Scotting, a former Psychiatric nurse with nearly forty years' experience working with people in distress sums this up

1681735475_1681735474501.jpeg"There is always a story. It is rare that someone wakes up one morning feeling mad, except in the case of the few obviously organic brain disorders such as Alzheimer's. We often hear of difficult childhoods, unstable families, poverty, adult adversity and trauma. Things that can't be “cured” with medication."

The work of the British Psychological Society in its “Power Threat Meaning Framework” encapsulates this and provides a paradigm that moves the help for people experiencing mental distress from medical diagnosis to an empathic and compassionate way of working. 

1681736064_1681736062829.jpegMental Health Recovery provides us with a framework that allows us time, space, knowledge and strategies to learn and heal. Recovery is living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life even with mental health problems. Recovery was the concept that was selected as the overriding paradigm for mental health service provision in England and Wales by The Care Services Improvement Partnership, Royal college of Psychiatrists and Social Care institute for Excellence in 2007. Their joint position paper “A common purpose: Recovery in future mental health services.” Set out how this was to be achieved. Sadly, the Austerity agenda pursued by several subsequent governments put paid to this being delivered.

Helping the Environment 

We garden using Permaculture principles reducing our carbon usage, reducing waste, improving soils and the local environment. We own scythes to cut grasses and reduce our carbon footprint, as well as making our own compost on site. We aim to improve the availability of fresh chemical- free produce to our participants and the communities they live in, reducing food poverty and improving health.

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What we will use the funding for

Each of our groups cost around £15,000 a year to run with costs of insurance and motor vehicle expenses increasing year on year. Being able to fund our core costs means that we can use any additional funding directly to fund the activities of our gardening groups. Some projects include

  • Creating more raised planting beds at both our sites in Watchet and Chilton Polden to increase our growing capacity.
  • Installing a water irrigation system in our polytunnel
  • Planting fruit trees and bushes on our sites.
  • Continue tidying and developing the number of community areas we maintain.
  • Ensuring our transport van is serviced and maintained to transport participants to and from our groups

Rewards

This project offered rewards

£10 or more

£10 Reward

Free packet of our Native English Wildflower seeds

£25 or more

£25 Reward

A gift bag of our lovely Native English Wildflower Seed bombs

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Join us for the day to meet the team, engage in therapeutic gardening activities and learn how to nurture mental health Recovery with us

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