The Nurture Project is a social enterprise in North Norfolk that operates a therapeutic garden project all year round supporting vulnerable adults living with mental ill health. It provides a friendly safe space for adults to improve both their mental and physical wellbeing and usually delivers a horticultural therapy outreach programme at Wells Community Hospital Trust.

The grass roots organisation was awarded a Covid-19 Community Response grant to provide gardening packs and food boxes to vulnerable clients and provide remote by telephone and online. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown they have to adapt their support of meeting clients in person to providing weekly telephone and online support to keep in contact with their service user’s.

In addition food boxes were made up of The Nurture Project’s very own produce … and the gardening packs ensured clients could continue their horticultural activities in isolation as individuals living with mental health were much more likely to feel isolated and vulnerable during the Covid 19 crisis. Clients were along the age of 45 to 75 years old and some very little had no familial or friend support so these regular communications and proactive activities packs were vital for their mental well-being.

Furthermore, The Nurture Project used their bi-weekly newsletter to signpost relevant services to their clients to ensure they met their client’s needs during this difficult time. Some service users found being contacted weekly acted as a lifeline knowing they were listened to and the gardening boxes upheld their wholesome gardening projects during the Covid-19 pandemic “For me it was a lifeline knowing I could talk and be heard once a week. The gardening boxes and newsletters were much appreciated and looked forward to. As everything else just stopped in lock down the continuity of TNP kept me and my garden going and growing. Thank you heart felt.”

Also volunteers noticed the difference themselves about how the telephone support during lock down helped their clients like Lin who volunteers at The Nurture project ” My experience as a volunteer is that the telephone support we have given our clients has really sustained them through the lockdown, a period when they have felt particularly vulnerable and anxious. They have also appreciated the varied content of the regular newsletters, which has encouraged them both to continue to garden from their own homes as well as read or listen to relevant titles.The monthly gardening packs that Carlyn put together gave our clients something special to look forward to and enjoy. One lady said that receiving her pack was like Christmas come early!”. 

Where as other volunteers felt the regular communication benefited both themselves and the clients due to being at home and not seeing other people as Aty explains “For me, volunteering in lockdown became more of two-way experience than ever. I looked forward to and got so much from the weekly chats to the clients.” 

Overall the gardening boxes and efficient communication distinctly made a positive impact on well-being during a time where social interaction was limited and supported with essentials like food boxes were some may have been struggling because of shielding or lack of income.