Did you know Twyford Parish Council are supporting a new local Green Prescriptions initiative?
The project is based on the Hurst Road Allotment site and is led by Cllr Rohana Abeywardana. His inspiration came partly from a talk given to Twyford Allotment Tenants’ Association by gardening writer and founder of Life at No.27, Annabelle Padwick, about her work to create an allotment therapy site in Towcester and the benefits of allotments for mental health.
The team Rohana has brought together behind the project are all volunteers with plots on the Hurst Road site who have, like him, felt the benefits of active involvement in growing produce. Awareness of the importance of mental health, wellbeing, and the benefits of engaging with the outdoors in some way was brought into sharp focus for them all during the first lockdown of 2020. As team member and TPC councillor Teresa Ramsden puts it, ‘I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t escape to my plot everyday’. Fiona Price, team member and Chief Executive of AgeUK Berkshire, agrees, ‘It’s been a real asset’. The response to the project from other plot holders has been overwhelmingly positive and the team are eager for other residents, particularly those with defined mental health needs, to benefit from the friendly community atmosphere of the allotment site.
Thanks to a grant from Twyford Parish Council, the team have begun to prepare the Green Prescriptions plot and are aiming to receive their first referrals during spring of this year. Work started in October 2020 to clear the plot and before Christmas 2020 (and subsequent lockdown restrictions) Teresa, regularly joined by team members Cllr Malcom Bray and Natalie Burton, made good progress to make the plot more welcoming and user-friendly. Rotten wood was burned, tarpaulin and heavy-duty sheet plastic was laid to suppress weeds, fruit trees were pruned, and rubble bags were filled with broken tools, glass and disintegrating plastic which had been hiding amongst the overgrown weeds and grass. Just before the area was placed under Tier 4 restrictions, the team had begun to level the ground to erect a shed and greenhouse, as well as making plans for creating a sheltered seating area where clients and volunteers can have a cuppa and chat during sessions.
Projects which aim to support people in the community with a wide range of social, emotional and practical needs comes under the umbrella term ‘social prescribing’. There is evidence that social prescribing leads to positive outcomes for individuals who are referred by their local GP and social prescribing team to professionally led community projects, such as Twyford Green Prescriptions. The team is working with Twyford Surgery, Jason Bowles (Community Wellbeing Officer at Involve Wokingham), and have employed Christina Hughes Nind, a horticultural therapist with a wealth of experience in the field, to lead sessions with people from the parish referred to the project by the local social prescribing team. Initially, the project will support adults with anxiety and depression.
To enquire about referrals to the project, contact Jason via Twyford Surgery.