Norfolk Nurture Project uses gardening and nature to promote wellbeing

A new gardening project in north Norfolk is offering green-fingered support to people living with mental health issues.

Carlyn Kilpatrick, right, in her walled garden at Kettlestone, where she has started up The Nurture

Carlyn Kilpatrick, right, in her walled garden at Kettlestone, where she has started up The Nurture Project, gardening therapy for people with mental health issues. With her is volunteer Rebecca Richings. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The Nurture Project, which has been launched at Kettlestone, near Fakenham, uses supervised gardening to promote mental and physical wellbeing in a friendly, safe environment.

Its founder and coordinator, Carlyn Kilpatrick, said: 'Horticultural therapy is an innovative and creative approach to helping people living with mild to moderate mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety or stress.

'It has been a long held view that horticulture has a meaningful therapeutic value, both on a physical and emotional level.'

Both one-to-one and group sessions will be held, both in Mrs Kilpatrick's walled gardens, around an overgrown adjacent pond area and a leafy woodland walk which winds through towering oak, pine and ash trees.

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There are areas for quiet contemplation, offering views across open pasture, as well as areas where people can work together.

Mrs Kilpatrick is being assisted by volunteer Rebecca Richings, who said: 'I've always had an interest in mental health, I enjoy gardening, I enjoy people, I enjoy conversation.'

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No gardening experience is required to take part in one or two-hour sessions. Therapists help clients to work towards individually-set goals to improve their health and self esteem.

The project aims to work alongside local mental health teams and GP practices around the north and west Norfolk areas.

Eddie West-Burnham, the chief executive of West Norfolk MIND said: 'Horticultural therapy provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature and improve the mental and physical health for everyone, regardless of age or level of ability.

'West Norfolk Mind has had a thriving allotment for six years.

'Over this time we have seen hundreds of people achieve some wonderful outcomes including learning new skills which have improved the chances of finding employment.'

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