Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wanted – Ecotherapy Buddies

Forest Farm Peace Garden is currently looking to recruit new buddy volunteers. We will be running a 3 day free buddy training program in March 2015! More info here

Being outside- whether you are doing an activity or just relaxing, spending time alone or with other people – can have a fantastic positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. Research increasingly shows that even short periods of time spent outdoors can have substantial benefits for mental health. Volunteers at Forest Farm Peace Garden consistently report that their time in the Garden improves their health and mood.

At the heart of the ecotherapy programme at Forest Farm Peace Garden is the Buddy Scheme. This is a structured eco therapy programme. Its purpose is to support volunteers with mental health needs who might not otherwise be able to attend the garden. Volunteers with mental health support needs sign up for a 7 or 8 month structured programme. They set goals for themselves at the beginning of the programme, which they would like to achieve by the end. For instance, they might set a goal of learning some new skills or improving an aspect of their health.

The Buddy Scheme runs every Wednesday, and supported volunteers attend either a morning session (11am – 1pm) or an afternoon session (2pm - 4pm). At the garden, participants work in small groups of three or four, together with a volunteer who has been trained to provide support. Each week a different group takes it in turns to be responsible for food and drinks – gathering vegetables and herbs from the garden to make soups, salad and tea. The project gives participants a chance to learn more about healthy living, cooking and nutrition, as well as gardening. Our volunteers benefit from making new friends, sharing experiences, learning skills and being active outdoors together.

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