Community gardens provide mental health boost in Southend borough

Green-fingered residents keeping themselves busy at a community garden in Southend are seeing a vast improvement in their mental wellbeing.

The Cluniac Gardens – located on Norwich Avenue – community gardens and allotments, managed by the Early Help Family Support Service, have seen a steady increase in the number of visitors since lockdown began back in March.

Many visitors have agreed they have seen an improvement in their mental wellbeing, particularly around anxiety and isolation.

With more people making use of the gardens, residents are being asked to consider coming along to the garden on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 9.30am – 1pm, and get involved in some gardening or even setting up a patch in the allotment.

It’s free to use, and is a fantastic way of meeting new people, learning new skills and helps to reduce social anxiety. Tasks can vary from watering plants to digging holes for plants, fruit and veg.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “I think we have all come to appreciate our green spaces and gardens over the lockdown period and there are so many positives with gardening itself.

“I am delighted to hear that our residents are benefitting from the Cluniac Gardens and the positive impact on anxiety and isolation the gardens have played, particularly throughout what has been a really challenging period for many people.

“We have a number of allotments across the borough, and with many of us having more time on our hands, why not take a look to see if there is space at your local allotment site and start to reap the rewards for yourself.”

One regular visitor to the gardens said: “It has given me a reason to come out and enjoy the outside in a safe environment”.

Another added: “I have moved on since coming here and now have a job, which is all down to the gardening experience learned here, but I still like to come on my days off.”

To find out more about allotments in the borough, including locations and how to register an interest, go to: www.southend.gov.uk/allotment

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]