A Place to Grow
St.Helens Mind has had an allotment for many years, it has been kept going by dedicated volunteers who provide a warm welcome and a safe environment for our members. However, our allotment is sadly underutilised because we need the skills and expertise of a development worker who will pull plans together for the future; to recruit, train, and maintain volunteers. That person will need to ensure the project is promoted well, so we reach those who need it.
With Covid 19 restrictions putting a halt to many of our other face to face services, the allotment has continued to thrive. Not only does it offer a lifeline for people who are isolated or lonely due to poor mental health, but it can also greatly improve physical wellbeing.
The St.Helens Mind allotment has evolved over many years and it is now a well-tended site where volunteers and St.Helens Mind members alike enjoy the space, where they not only grow and care for plants, but enjoy fresh air, exercise, good company, and a peaceful, safe and welcoming haven.
We want to achieve more!
We want to address the difficult issues that are apparent in St. Helens, and even more so with the impact of Covid 19. We anticipate demand for our support will escalate as the effect of the pandemic begins to affect the mental health of the wider community.
This is a borough already impacted by higher than average rates of early death in both men and women; higher than national average rates of death from smoking-related illnesses; higher rates of stays in the hospital for self-harm and alcohol-related harm. St Helens was dubbed the 'nation's suicide capital'
What are the benefits?
A report published by The King’s Fund has recognised that there are a variety of health benefits from gardening, including reducing depression, loneliness, anxiety, and stress.
Working in a garden or at an allotment is an excellent way to get all-round exercise for improving strength, endurance and flexibility and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other medical conditions.
Who will benefit?
There are volunteers and members of all abilities, ages, and backgrounds at the allotment, and there are always opportunities to learn from more experienced gardeners or share knowledge as a group. Taking home fresh produce is just one benefit of attending this little jewel in the town.
There is space to work alone if a person just wants some peace, if all they need is a chat and a cuppa, that's fine too. There's always laughter at the allotment but if someone is feeling more energetic there is always digging, weeding, and planting, making a 'safe haven' with an abundance of flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
We hope that by employing a Development Worker we can open up these benefits to far more people. We would love to engage with those people who are marginalised in our community. We aim to work with people who have been bereaved, people from the BAME and LGBTQ communities, younger people, in fact, anyone experiencing poor mental health and wishing to gain resilience and hope.
What our Members tell us:
"Being on the allotment is important to me. I enjoy going and being involved. Being there helps me with my low moods, depression, sleep, confidence, loneliness, worries, and physical health.
With my mental health, being on the allotment takes my mind off other things like thoughts and worries.
It also gets me through the day. Before I get there my mood can be low but I know if I go, my mood would lift within an hour of arriving. Since I started there, just over a year ago, I have noticed a big change in myself. At the start, going to the St. Helens Mind’s allotment, I was shy and I wouldn’t speak to anyone unless they spoke to me first, but not now. It has brought me out of my shyness.
Going on the allotment makes me feel happy, good, proud, helpful, needed, glad, and keeps me calm. I have made friends which I wouldn’t have made, grown veggies which I wouldn’t have grown, got the fresh air I wouldn’t have got, and being in the fresh air helps me to sleep at night.
I love listening to the sounds of nature, for example, listening to the birds singing, the wind blowing in the trees, and the bees buzzing around. And then there are different scents that the flowers and plants produce, which is so nice to smell when I’m there.
I enjoy going to the allotment and getting stuck in. I also like to get my hands dirty. I never go home clean, but I know that I have enjoyed myself and had a good laugh with everyone. I love to take photos of what we have done and what we have grown. It is always nice to look back at them which we always do and I also share my photos with others.
Meeting up with others makes me feel good. I enjoy talking and listening to them all. We have a laugh too, going to the allotment makes my day. It makes me feel proud of what I have achieved in the time I have been there."