A Nottingham woman is currently cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise £10,000 in support of a city therapeutic horticulture scheme.
Growing Forward CIC is a social and therapeutic horticulture project based in community gardens in Bobbers Mill and Clifton.
Working closely with local health professionals and a range of other wellbeing organisations, it provides group gardening sessions and one-to-one counselling in horticultural settings for people experiencing mental ill health, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Post-pandemic, the group’s work is needed more than ever, but with funding scarce, organisation founder Clare Bull has taken to the saddle to raise money for the scheme. She set off on the 874-mile journey from Land’s End on 14th September and is expected to finish the cycle ride two weeks later.
“Money donated through the sponsorship will make a big difference,” explained Clare, a clinical counsellor and qualified social and therapeutic horticulture practitioner who runs Growing Forward with Vic Stevens. “It will help us to set up a dedicated and specialised garden, to deliver therapeutic sessions by trained practitioners, and buy recycled bikes from Nottingham Bikeworks, so that clients can independently travel to the garden.
“Social and therapeutic horticulture provides a wealth of opportunities and activities to improve physical and emotional wellbeing. This includes promoting fitness and building physical strength, increasing self-esteem, reducing stress and the effects of mental ill health, providing hope for the future, and fostering a sense of community. It’s also an ideal environment for learning and applying vocational skills which can be transferred to employment and volunteering. Its effects can be broad ranging and longstanding. Our work is even more vital now, post pandemic, which is why I’m undertaking this challenge to raise funds.”
The Growing Forward scheme, which has been delivered in collaboration with Summerwood Community Garden in Clifton and Windmill Community Gardens in Bobbers Mill, hopes to create its own dedicated garden in the city in which to carry out therapeutic horticulture.
“There’s a huge body of evidence that shows that horticulture therapy brings so many benefits and we want to be able to expand the good work that our pilot scheme has undertaken and build on the achievements we have already made,” added Clare, who is 41.
“We have identified a garden site in Bobbers Mill which is the perfect place to create a quiet safe space where we can continue our horticulture therapy and counselling and help those who are in need of support.”
Growing Forward, a Community Interest Company, was founded in 2019. With initial limited funding, the team offered group sessions and one-to-one counselling in community gardens – providing remote and socially distanced support during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
To donate in support of Clare’s effort, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/growingforwardlegog
For more information about the Growing Forward scheme, visit www.growingforward.org.uk