All of our support is free of charge and we also support most travel expenses
If you are an adult (age 17+) who is experiencing mental health problems, then we may be able to support you. The majority of people who come to us find that being part of Growing Well helps their mental health. We help you to learn how to manage and recover from depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms.
We are a working farm, where you can get involved with growing and cooking organic vegetables. This can involve working outside, in our yurts, or in the office. Don’t worry if mobility is an issue, or you are a wheelchair user. We are accessible to everyone.
Don’t worry if you find it difficult to talk to or be around other people at the moment – we understand. You won’t ever be ‘made’ to do anything you find too difficult. You can work at your own pace and we will teach you new skills to build your confidence.
What you can expect from us:
- We provide a safe, supportive environment, where you will be treated equally and your contribution will be valued.
- We will provide regular one to one meetings where you can discuss your mental health recovery and set goals for the future.
- We will keep all your information confidential and never discuss your mental health with anyone – unless you allow us to or we are worried about your safety. In these cases we will tell you that we are going to speak to your GP or Care Co-ordinator.
- We offer the opportunity to qualify for a Level 1 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture. This can be studied as you work with us on the field.
- We will give you the opportunity to get involved in making decisions about how Growing Well supports people.
What we expect from you:
- A commitment to a working environment, where you will be expected to join in with tasks and work as part of a team.
- That you will treat everyone on-site equally and respectfully and that you will not do anything that places anyone in danger (including yourself)
Who is Growing Well not for?
Anyone can come to us, free of charge, but in our experience, our service isn’t suitable if:
- You live more than an hour’s travel time away from our site. Our work day is 9.30am – 4pm and we find it’s very difficult for anyone to sustain this commitment if you also have long travel times.
- You don’t like being outside or getting your hands dirty. This may sound obvious, but really, if you’re not comfortable getting a bit muddy then our support probably isn’t for you!
- You can’t make a regular weekly commitment. We don’t expect you to be with us every week, but you do need to make a commitment to come and work with us regularly for a sustained period of time.
When you are ready to visit us, there is a simple process…
…we ask you to come for a visit. You can bring a friend, family member or support worker if you would like. This visit takes about an hour.
If you’d like to start working with us, we’ll take a reference from someone who knows about your mental health. This might be your GP or a Care Co-ordinator.
Once we have your reference, we’ll be in touch to arrange a start date – this could be for a full day, or a couple of hours, it is your choice on what will support you best.
When you start at Growing Well you can try a variety of jobs, including…
…working on the field, carrying out growing activities – sowing seeds, planting out, watering and looking after the plants, and finally picking and packing them for sale. This is great if you enjoy being outside, moving around and getting stuck in.
…preparing and cooking lunch for the team, and also experimenting with new food products for us to hopefully sell. This is great for people who either enjoy or would like to have a go at cooking, it’s less physically demanding and gives a great sense of achievement, working as part of team to prepare lunch for everyone!
…working in the office, helping us run the organisation. You can get involved with financial tasks, marketing, events, and a wide range of other administrative tasks.
We also offer a range of training opportunities. You’ll have that chance to study for horticultural qualifications, which will build your skill,knowledge and confidence. We also organise practical training in tractor driving, and other useful skills. For people working in the office and cooking activities, there will be opportunities to attend relevant training, if you are interested in doing so.
Does it work?
Don’t take our word for it – hear from one of our volunteers about how Growing Well has helped:
I attend Growing Well on a voluntary basis. It exists to provide horticultural therapy to those suffering from mental health problems. I first went there a few years ago and soon after I had settled in, I was invited to enrol on the City & Guilds NVQ Level 1 Certificate in Work-based Horticulture. This gives candidates something to work towards, whether the qualification per se is directly useful or not: it provides structure and purpose to individuals who are often struggling to cope in many respects, myself included.
If I’m honest I didn’t see it in such clear terms initially but, after the certificate was conferred upon me, I felt a genuine sense of achievement and when the opportunity to study the subject at Level 2 arose I embraced it. I completed that course without any problems and thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I felt a bit empty when it ended, as I then had nothing to maintain the momentum I’d built up.
Then, quite unexpectedly, Growing Well created another educational opportunity for me by arranging access to the Level 3 Award in Education and Training. This was awarded to me in September 2015, although I’d completed the work in early Summer. I have to confess that my meeting the deadline for completion of the course assignments was eleventh hour due to the motivational problems I have, but when I finally got round to doing them I did so without any difficulty at all, leaving me to wonder just why I had been repeatedly putting them off in the first place.
Completion of that qualification led me to think about what would be a natural progression and Hazel Sharples, the Training Co-ordinator and my mentor at Growing Well, had previously seeded the idea of gaining a formal assessor qualification. Independently of Growing Well, I approached Kendal College and enrolled on a Level 3 Vocational Assessor course, which I completed in September 2016. Since then I have become involved in Level 1 assessment work at Growing Well and I have been nominated to do similar Level 1 assessment work at another organisation. I’m now doing for others what she did for me not that long ago. That’s quite a journey for me and I would never have believed it possible when I first started at Growing Well.
It’s difficult to adequately express how this process has affected me. It really has given me some long overdue purpose in life. I have always enjoyed helping others learn, ‘developing people’ in management parlance, and I’m good at it – in the estimation of others as well as my own! Growing Well, and in particular Hazel, had spotted this which is why I have been given so much encouragement, opportunity and support. But it’s much more than that; it’s about being given significant responsibility and the associated feeling of increased self-worth.
My involvement in assessing learners isn’t just about helping them: it’s helping me too.