An Ealing charity is using growing and nature to help improve mental wellbeing in the borough and beyond.
MindFood is a food-growing charity helping people who may be struggling with stress, depression or anxiety with the aim to make better mental health accessible for all.
The charity offers growing wellbeing courses with a balance of learning how to grow food, along with practical tips and techniques to improve wellbeing.
Lucy Clark is the programme director and food and wellbeing grower, also a MindFood participant since early 2015.
“There is something liberating about everybody talking about their mental health,” said Lucy, “and people like the fact they can come here and meet other people who haven’t been able to get out of bed for weeks either.”
Since the pandemic, mental wellbeing has been an increasingly common topic of conversation, but Lucy reflected that this was not always the case.
She said: “What has been interesting is the number of people talking about mental health and nature in the same breath. This wasn’t happening before.
“Now, we don’t have to tell people that nature is good for their wellbeing as people know that already.
“It’s not about being an expert, there are not many places where you can just make it up as you go along, we think that’s the best way to reconnect with nature.”
Funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund helps pay for their Makeover Monday sessions - a first chance to have a go at carpentry for many, where they use the sessions to build new raised beds, give things a lick of paint and generally upgrade the site and make it more accessible.
When you become a Co-op Member, you can select local causes in your area for Co-op to support through its Local Community Fund.
With two allotment sites in Ealing, the charity offers an open space people can come to, perhaps when they’re tackling isolation or going through a low period.
Lucy reflected how MindFood also offers a safe and un-intimidating environment, whereas people can sometimes be frightened by the prospect of therapy sessions.
Susan, Ealing resident and MindFood participant said: “Gardening is absorbing but not mentally taxing, I’ve learnt that it’s good for your wellbeing and mindful in a way.
“It’s a way of discovering something new, whilst bringing you back to the basics.”
The charity has two growing sites at Cleveley Crescent Allotments and Horsenden Farm and everyone who teaches with the charity initially started as a participant.
One in four of us experience a mental health problem in any one year. That’s someone in every family, workplace and friendship circle. In the UK it's around 14 million people.
That's why Co-op is working in partnership with Mind, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Inspire to bring communities together to support mental wellbeing.
To help you look after and find support for your and others mental wellbeing, Co-op created Be Kind To Your Mind. It includes activities from Co-op and its partners as well as general tips and how to seek support from Co-op’s charity partners, Mind, SAMH and Inspire.
If you need support with your mental health or know someone that does, the following can help:
contact Mind for support in England and Wales on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday), text: 86463 or email [email protected]
text SHOUT for support anywhere on 85258
Co-op membership helps support Co-op’s national charity partners and Local Community Fund causes. When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes to you and Co-op gives the same to local communities. See www.coop.co.uk/membership
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