Gardening really is fantastically therapeutic as many of you all know, in fact a recent study found that 88% of gardeners chose mental wellbeing as a key benefit for spending time in the garden. Not only that, gardening can help rebuild a person’s strength after an accident or illness, and can provide a purposeful activity for someone coping with a difficult period in their life.
So when I came across the charity Thrive, I really was impressed with what they are doing. They are the leading charity in the UK using gardening to change the lives of disabled people. They have allotments in four locations across the UK, which in 2014/15 delivered 10,000 gardening sessions to 450 disadvantaged clients. 38 went on to achieve an accredited horticultural qualification which for many was their first ever qualification.
You might not think it, but there are endless benefits to working in the garden with disabled people. It provides them with better physical health through exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to improve mobility. As stated at the start, it improves mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement. The opportunity to connect with others helps reduce feelings of isolation, acquiring new skills to lead a fuller and more independent life and just generally feeling better for being outside in touch with the ‘great outdoors’.
As well as the help they provide for disabled people, Thrive also assists the 50+ community. The Sow and Grow project started in 2010 and achieved great success. It is a free, eight week indoor gardening course for people over the age of 50 who are keen to make new friends, improve their general health and learn more about gardening. The results showed that almost three quarters of participants felt less isolated which is a big result considering loneliness is often cited as one of the biggest contributors to poor mental health.
As you can see this isn’t just about helping disabled people. As fantastic and standout as that is, this is about showing what benefits everyone can get from gardening and the improvements it can make to your mental health. Spread the word about Thrive and remember happy gardening!
Callum is currently on his placement year here at Primrose with his parents being huge garden enthusiasts.
In the time he has free from his parents rambling on about the garden, he is being a typical university student experiencing life to the full and supporting his beloved Reading FC.