Sowing the seeds for better mental health

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FOR Charlie Powell horticulture provided a welcome respite from the hectic world of PR and advertising she used to work in.

Phil Chattie and Charlie Powell from Lindengate chat to Bishop Alan.

Phil Chattle and Charlie Powell from Lindengate chat to Bishop Alan.

So Charlie, who worships at St Mary’s, Wendover, retrained as a gardener, and with Sian Chattle, is launching Lindengate, a start-up charity aiming to support people with mental health problems, through nature and horticulture.

Sian met Charlie in the singing group at St Mary’s and they have been friends for years. After becoming an Eco Schools Ambassador at Wendover Junior School, and 30 years in teaching, she was looking for a new challenge.

Lindengate will be open in mid September, on land next to the World’s End Garden Centre in Wendover. Charlie and Sian are hoping to launch academic programmes as well as therapeutic gardening to clients, who will be referred to as ‘gardeners’ rather than patients. Polytunnels that act like greenhouses will ensure that gardening can take place in all weathers and throughout the year.

The project impressed the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, so much that he held a garden party complete with a hog roast, entertainment and a raffle, which raised £1,000 for the charity. Charlie was quick to point to statistics that demonstrate the need for help for those with mental health problems. “12.1 per cent of the population (61,200 people) in Buckinghamshire, suffer from clinically acknowledged depression. It’s not just the prevail of the poor. We are on the London commuter belt and a lot of people are in highly pressured jobs,” she says.

“I wanted to provide something that I had not had. All my life gardening has provided me with an outlet that no NHS clinical provision has. When I was working in advertising and PR I couldn’t find enough time gardening to feel the benefits.

“The NHS are great and staff work hard to provide a first stage intervention, but they don’t have the resources for non-clinical therapies.”

Lindengate’s branding and business plan, from the logo, publicity leaflets, website and uniform demonstrates a high level of planning and professionalism. Charlie says: “We are being highly strategic. We have thought things through and drawn on the experience of people who have been doing this for decades.”

A hog roast is served up at Bishop Alan's

A hog roast is served up at Bishop Alan’s

Sian’s Eco School’s work saw her planting a wildflower meadow. “It was particularly good for children who weren’t brilliant academically. We had an Eco Club were those with behavioural problems were all on an equal footing. Gardening was something they could succeed at,” she says. “My son is 26 and has aspergers and once he became an adult there was a vacuum. He was isolated and could only go out of the house with a family member because he was terrified of social situations. There is a need for provision.”

They have now secured five acres of land and are attempting to raise £70,000 for their projects. “We have been overwhelmed by the support,” she added.

Lindengate is looking for volunteers who can dig and help create it’s garden and is still fundraising. Contact info@lindengate.org.uk, 07837 239328.

 

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