Yesterday I visited a Comic Relief project closer to home, and not just in terms of geography. It seems daft that after being involved with Comic Relief for four years, and three trips to Africa, I haven’t visited one of their projects on my own doorstep. So when the charity emailed some of us last month to ask if we wanted to do just that, I leapt at the chance.
After all, we all live within 30 miles of a project that has received some kind of funding from Comic Relief over the years because they spend almost half their grant budget each year here at home*, it’s not just spent supporting people overseas. That’s a fact that even after 28 years people don’t really know, which seems a real shame.
Mayfield Nurseries, the project we visited, says of itself:
We provide a place for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities to develop new skills and be part of a supportive, friendly community. Through our schedule of groups and training programmes we see people dramatic improvements in people’s mental health, confidence and self esteem.
In simple terms, as they say themselves “We help people grow”.
There is so much I want to say about this amazing charity, about Rachel who runs it, and about some of the people we met yesterday, but it is 6am and I have 15 Thermos flasks to fill and 47 baps to butter for our ten mile walk today. I wanted to share with you though some pictures of this great space so you can see a little bit about what they do because it so much more than just a few sentences.
All the people we met yesterday had very different stories, some had PTSD, some had early onset dementia, some had been diagnosed with bipolar, but everybody was receiving support to help them help themselves. And in some cases to then be taught how to be a peer worker, something we saw in action in Africa with Mothers 2 Mothers and their mentor scheme, yet here it is in place again.
It is that old word “empowerment” again. Giving people the skills they need to help themselves, to feel they have a reason for getting up, and that with the right support what might have been impossible a few months ago is now very possible.
It was so wonderful to watch and I could have chatted to Rachel, the manager (and her dog Mr Boots) all day.
Mental health issues really aren’t talked about in this country. They aren’t supported enough, they aren’t funded enough. Typically if a person finally plucks up the courage to tell their GP they are suffering, they are handed a prescription for drugs, but whilst that is one way of helping people it shouldn’t be the only option. What about a prescription for gardening instead?
Seriously. This is an actual thing.
And it is joyous.
So this is my reason for being up at 5.30am, for walking ten miles today, in a leopard print onesie. If you were able to sponsor this ridiculous escapade it could be helping people just down the road who just need a bit more support to lead the life we often take for granted
*(money raised by Red Nose Day is spent by Comic Relief to help some of the poorest and most vulnerable people here in the UK and across Africa. Money is divided 60% for African projects – 40% for UK projects)