Over the last year, we've seen so much in the media about the huge impact this pandemic has had on people’s mental health, however, mental ill health is not new, it has always been around causing struggles for many people. We want to share with you the positive impact coming to Thrive has had on the mental wellbeing of one of our client gardeners; Sonya.*
Sonya was a corporate lawyer. With long hours and a stressful job, Sonya was not feeling as happy or upbeat as she once was, and soon realised that she was experiencing symptoms of depression. Living nearby, she was a regular visitor to Battersea Park and its gardens, and this was how she found Thrive. Following a conversation and sharing her story with our client and garden manager in January 2020, she joined the Women’s Pathway Group.
The Pathway Programme run by Thrive is for adults whose mental health is in a place that means they need to be in an environment which is designed to minimise stress and anxiety. This programme helps by providing the focus of gardening as an avenue to start working with others, gaining trust, confidence and learning new skills. With up to six months of supported gardening delivered for each participant, it also offers the opportunity to progress onto a Practical Horticulture Qualification programme.
Sonya has found participating in the Women’s Pathway Programme to be very satisfying. She has seen and experienced the positive impact that both therapeutic gardening, and being part of a group can bring.
You can talk if you want to or just work side by side. My horticultural practitioner is brilliant and so are the volunteers, great companions- Sonya, client gardener
Sonya has now moved onto Thrive’s Level 1 course which will allow her to learn more about gardening, experience other areas of the Park and gain a qualification. She told us - “It’s satisfying that there is the option to progress on to the next level and study. It provides a great sense of achievement and is important in rebuilding confidence and self-belief”. Being part of Thrive’s programmes has proved invaluable in enabling Sonya to rebuild her resilience.
Thrive helps support client gardeners through their time of need and beyond. People like Sonya come to us for help and guidance, and by working with our practitioners, learn to better understand how gardening can help relieve some of their burden whilst helping them grow and learn new skills.
“I often walked around the Old English Garden. I love it. It was wonderful to be able to work in the garden and to participate in something that was going to be very relaxing” – Sonya, client gardener
Living with poor mental health can often be very scary and frustrating. Generally, with less visible symptoms, mental ill health can easily be overlooked or misunderstood, with many people feeling unable to ask for help through fear of not being taken seriously or being treated differently.
When you feel depressed you don’t feel capable of anything. Gardening in the Old English Garden delivered something with immediate resultsSonya, client gardener
At Thrive, we provide a safe space to talk and use gardening as a way to heal and nurture, while bringing a new focus to individuals lives through positive changes.
For us to help more people like Sonya, especially after an extremely tough year with cases of mental ill health on the rise, we need support from wonderful people like you, our supporters who make this all possible.
*We have changed the client gardener’s name to ensure anonymity.