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Growing Group Formed To Boost Mental Health

Six islanders with learning disabilities are growing fruit and vegetables at a community allotment to boost their mental health.

A pilot scheme has launched to help them feel part of an active community, by coming together on a community allotment in Gorey once a week.

Six islanders currently take part and take the vegetables home with them, with other produce used to make free soup the Salvation Army gives out at its St Helier cafe.

"I’ve enjoyed it, there is a lot of gardening to be done – the people help us and we help them." - Nicky Pallot, St Saviour.

"It’s been very exciting and interesting. What we do with the flowers and herbs is very informative." - Theirry Gales, St Saviour

"I enjoy helping out with the environment and gardening. I like being out in nature and it’s been good getting to know new people." - Ethan Allen, Trinity.

"I like wetting the staff with the hose and I like the company of some of the people I have met." - Kelly Blanco, St Saviour.

They are supported by clinical psychologist Sinead Peacock-Brennan, occupational therapist Julie Vibert-Jones, occupational therapy assistant Aimee Howard, nurse Liz Lewry and nursing assistant Jane Nicolle.

Dr Peacock-Brennan says its worked brilliantly so far.

"There are other great projects on the island - Acorn and Mencap are running an allotment project so there are people doing this sort of work.

"For our clients, this is their eighth week, and all I can say is that the people that have been coming have absolutely loved it and really enjoyed the process.

"Being able to come up and get out with such a beautiful view is great for wellbeing."

B&Q and the JFTU have supported the project by offering discounted tools, along with Overdale and Acorn who have donated plants and seeds.

It's hoped that with more funding, raised beds will be created to allow disabled islanders to take part.

"It has been a real privilege to share with this group as they enjoy our community garden. Supporting and sharing with each member of
the group as they experience gardening has been great.

For people who are cared for on a day-to-day basis, there is something special in seeing them caring for the plants as they grow and produce vegetables and fruit that they can take home, and that also help us provide the free soup in our cafe in town every day." - Richard Nunn, Salvation Army Lieutenant.

Anyone who wants to volunteer is asked to email Richard on Richard.Nunn@salvationarmy.org.uk.

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