Twyford mental health project celebrates successful first month

A project aiming to enhance mental health through communal gardening has had a successful first month.

Twyford Growers kicked off on Thursday, April 8, inviting those living with low to mid-level anxiety and depression and feelings of loneliness to the Hurst Road Allotments to take part in communal gardening and growing sessions.

The initiative, which was the brainchild of Twyford parish councillor Rohana Abeywardana, is a joint effort between Age UK Berkshire, Twyford Parish Council, and social prescribers at Twyford Surgery.

It was started with the intention of expanding non-medical healing or ‘green prescriptions’.

Individuals can refer themselves to the the project or can be referred by their GP or the social prescribing team at Twyford Surgery.

The sessions, which are led by horticultural therapist Christina Hughes-Nind with the help of Twyford resident Natalie Burton, take place every Thursday from 10am to 12pm.

Discussing the Twyford Growers allotment group at Twyford Parish Council’s meeting of the full council on Tuesday, April 27, Fiona Price, CEO of Age UK Berkshire explained that those involved benefit from being outdoors, learning new things, working and connecting with nature and plants, physical activity and building a community.

Highlighting the progress and future plans of the group, Christina Hughes-Nind, said: “We've got things growing already.

“The spiral shape, that's a feature which you might not get on a lot of allotments.

“It's an edible flower spiral, which we're going to create.

“But the idea being that people can then go into it, walk through and around it, and eat the crops, eat the flowers, and really immerse themselves because this is a therapeutic garden.”

So far, they have received two self-referrals for the group. The maximum group capacity is eight so there are currently six places free.

Fiona told the Advertiser: “The project is beginning to take off, feedback from those attending is that getting hands on at the allotment and seeing seeds and plants beginning to grow has given a great sense of enjoyment.

“They have enjoyed being outside and keeping their fingers crossed with the weather. If you would like to take part, please get in contact.”

To get involved email Age UK Berkshire at: info@ageukberkshire.org.uk or call 0118 959 4242 or speak to social prescriber Jason Bowles at Twyford Surgery on 01344 304404

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