Allotment helping with social recovery given 12-month extension
PUBLISHED: 11:57 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:57 10 December 2019
An allotment project providing a 'sanctuary' for people experiencing severe psychotic illness has been extended for another year.
Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) has extended the Marlpit Community Garden initiative for a further 12 months following its success to help users gain confidence and reduce their anxiety by developing the plot.
Staff from the enhanced treatment service raised money for the plot last summer for NSFT users experiencing severe psychotic illnesses.
The project has been called a 'lifeline' to those using it and over the next 12 months will allow more service users to benefit.
Cheryl Farrell, support worker, said: "We have seen a real change in the service users who have used the allotment. Being outside in nature and enjoying the fresh air has really boosted their wellbeing and encouraged them to open up to us, as they feel more comfortable than they might in a traditionally clinical setting.
"The allotment is a real sanctuary, especially for those who live in the city and may not have access to any other outside space or are fearful about going to a park on their own. Tending to the produce also gives them a sense of purpose, which has a fantastic impact on their confidence and self-belief."
NSFT staff accompany service users to the plot when it is quiet, and gradually build up their involvement over time.
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Mitch Neville, senior occupational therapist, said: "The allotment is an amazing project which has been a real lifeline to the service users who have accessed it during the past 12 months.
"It gives them the chance to enjoy being outside and gradually build up the time they spend around others in a calm and peaceful environment.
"The garden has really helped with their social recovery, with some even going on to do voluntary work."
Volunteers from the Sustainable Living Initiative, which runs the allotments, join the group at a weekly session to harvest produce for a shared lunch.
There is also the option for individuals to go on to rent their own plot.
Anne Marie Steward, from the Sustainable Living Initiative, said: "We are delighted to be able to share our fabulous resource with the people from NSFT and enjoy getting to know those who attend regularly.
"Some people have started to join in with communal activities. Their company and hard work are much appreciated. We look forward to many more visits."
For more information about Marlpit Community Garden, visit www.grow-our-own.co.uk