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A different path to wellbeing
Gardening is a form of relaxation, giving comfort and enjoyment to millions of people around the UK. Research shows that being outdoors can help improve mental health and wellbeing, but what are the additional benefits of being part of a gardening group?
In February 2019, Porthcawl Medical Centre, a development we’d been working on for over a year was completed. Along with the surgery we wanted to work with the practice to support local organisations, helping the practice make ties with the local community, sharing local facilities and improving patient access to social prescribing schemes. One of the schemes we supported as part of our healthy communities grants was the Wilderness Allotment Association in Porthcawl.
The Wilderness Allotment Association supports patients with social, mental and physical needs by creating an environment where they can make friends, grow produce and spend more time outside. Each member gets a long stretch of allotment where they can grow anything they choose. The project received the Council of Europe International Allotment Award in 2017. The healthy community grant provided a disabled toilet for the gardening group making the allotment more inclusive to the patients of Porthcawl allowing everybody to enjoy the benefits of gardening.
But what, might you ask is the link between individual wellbeing, allotment gardening and the community?
The Wilderness Allotment Association provides a safe, therapeutic environment for individuals on a ‘social prescription’ from their GP’s. They promote wellbeing for their gardeners through a healthy lifestyle of exercise and social activity.
Donna Holmes the registered manager of Trinity Care and Support in Porthcawl said: “The lives of the members of Trinity Care and Support Disabled Gardening Group have been improved no end by learning practical skills, meeting new people and feeling like they are part of the local community. Coming to the allotment helps with their mental and physical wellbeing and builds self-esteem and confidence.”
The allotments don’t just benefit patients, the allotment community has used their scheme to promote sustainable developments in their town, community and further afield by educating others on how gardening can benefit them and how growing things can be good for your health. The allotment visited Porthcawl Comprehensive where they created World War One themed food out of their produce and showed the students how important it was to grow your own produce in World War One.
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health and the combination of growing and sharing knowledge is an excellent way to build community spirit and supporting those that need additional support while growing some tasty fruit and vegetables.
“To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul”: Alfred Austin