The Volunteer Community Gardening scheme has been created to help Surrey people connect with each other and reconnect with nature at a time when mental health issues are prevalent in the community as we navigate our way out of the global pandemic.
The project aims to bring the local community together at its site in Worplesdon, and to garden in the historic grounds, whilst getting active and learning new skills as well as meeting like minded people and making new friends.
Rachel Benneworth, Volunteer Coordinator at Merrist Wood College said:
“The pandemic has made everyone realise just how important for our mental wellbeing it is to have access to outside space and to be part of a supportive community.
“We looked at what Merrist Wood College could offer, which is acres of beautiful and varied landscape – including formal gardens and areas that would be the perfect opportunity to create some stunning horticultural displays.
“As a result, we have put in place a project that would benefit the local community by giving them the chance to get their hands dirty in the fresh air, learn some new skills and have fun.”
Free Community Wellbeing Courses Also Offered
In addition, Activate Learning has launched a further series of free community wellbeing courses at two of its Surrey campuses – Merrist Wood College and Guildford College.
Courses range from digital storytelling for wellbeing, photography, mindful drawing, and five-week horticulture courses which cover everything from how to make and use compost, to veg growing to how look after houseplants.
The focus is on wellbeing and mindfulness, whilst recognising that some people might be shielding or not want to physically join a group yet, so some courses are delivered online.
Both projects Government funded and are free to residents that match several varied criteria such as low income, over 65s, single parents or those that have a disability or are struggling with their mental health.