Strong Roots is based at Bluebell Allotments in Norwich and is a unique gardening based project that helps people deal with mental health problems and those who feel isolated in their community.
I was invited to their Open Day on July 16th 2014 and saw at first hand the important work that they do.
Strong Roots is based at Bluebell Allotments in Norwich and helps people deal with mental health problems and those who feel isolated in their community. I was invited to their Open Day on July 16th 2014 and saw at first hand the important work that they do.
The project has four allotments where people can work growing flowers and vegetables. This grows people’s confidence by improving mental and physical health too. It also helps people reduce their reliance on the NHS health services and take steps towards a more independent way of living.
One of Strong Roots' success stories is 26 year old Connor Deegan. He was concerned he'd end up in hospital, reliant on the NHS. For Connor, Strong Roots means, “having something to look forward to, building up a routine.” It also gave him the confidence to get a formal qualification in horticulture and he now has a part time job.
Another success story is 22 year old Charlie Seymour, who turned to Strong Roots for support and ended up being a volunteer. “the project just enabled to me to make mistakes without worrying, it built my confidence. Now I can look for a job using my own initiative.”
Strong Roots has been running since 2006 but only has funding until March 2015. Co-ordinator Lucy Scurfield is a professional therapist. She says, “more funding means we can reach more people. We’re offering a service that’s not available anywhere else.”
Phillip Sherwood works with the Family Intervention project and is a Youth Mediation practitioner. He’s seen what a difference Strong Roots has made. “The project has helped families where there has been a lot of isolation. They feel let down. At Strong Roots they’ve been welcomed. They’ve stuck to the work, really committed and seen the benefits."
I was really impressed by what I saw at Strong Roots. Initiatives like this project play an increasingly important role for people struggling with isolation and the early stages of mental health issues.
With mental health services across Norfolk in crisis and early intervention teams decimated by Coalition NHS cuts, the work of projects like this has rarely been as important. They save NHS mental health services money via early intervention and also encourages community and relationship building. As innately social creatures having that sense of community is key to happiness and wellbeing.
That's why Strong Roots is such a fabulous project and I fully support its attempts to secure its future by obtaining funding beyond 2015.
For more info about Strong Roots visit: http://www.strongroots.org.uk/