In November 2017, independent mental health charity Suffolk Mind received a grant from the Port Community Fund towards their ecotherapy allotment projects. Based across the county, the projects’ main aims are to improve people’s physical and mental health by gently increasing their activity levels, while working alongside others. It’s one of these projects that has changed the life of a volunteer who’s suffered from depression for the last 9 years.

52 year old Mike Bourne began volunteering for Suffolk Mind four years ago, at one of their ecotherapy allotment projects. Since then, he’s gained more confidence.

“I was just sitting at home 24 hours a day, not doing anything but watching TV. One day I woke up and thought I need to get out and start doing something, so that’s when I joined the allotment project. I joined as a volunteer because, as well as helping myself, I wanted to help others who are going through what I did,” Mike explains. 

Ecotherapy Manager Sarah Manton-Roseblade with volunteers of the project 

”You meet friends, and learn how to grow things. From growing something from a little seed to putting it on your dinner plate is incredible; it’s a real achievement when you’ve looked after it for so long.” Mike continues, “the ecotherapy project is just fantastic and it’s changed my life completely. I now go out more, and am more confident in every way.”

Suffolk Mind has allotment projects in Hadleigh, Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Each site offers people the opportunity to learn about gardening and contribute to the creation of a thriving growing space that benefits everyone. People can also make new friends and get support from other group members. 

Sarah Manton-Roseblade, Ecotherapy Manager explains, “Getting outdoors into the fresh air, gently increasing activity and working alongside others is great for your physical and mental wellbeing. It helps people to meet some of their emotional needs like feeling part of a community, achieving something new and having meaning and purpose in their life. At Suffolk Mind, we want to make Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health, and this project helps us to work towards achieving our mission.”

Learn more about Suffolk Mind’s Ecotherapy Project, and watch the video here >

Suffolk Mind is currently looking for people to volunteer at each allotment project across Suffolk. For more details, email or call 0300 111 6000.

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