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New Growing Well at Tebay Services to help mental health in Eden and North Cumbria

Mental health charity to open new M6 site with support from the Westmorland Family and National Lottery

A major new mental health and horticulture project to help people in Eden and North Cumbria is to open at Tebay Services on the M6.

Kendal-based organic farm and mental health charity Growing Well, will expand to a second site thanks to a unique partnership with Tebay Services owners the Westmorland Family, and National Lottery funding announced today.

Westmorland Family today confirmed £150,000 of funding to create Growing Well’s on-site market garden that will supply fresh vegetables direct to their kitchens, while a two-year £180,000 grant from The National Lottery Community fund, announced today, will support the running costs of the charity’s therapeutic horticulture service.

Growing Well at Tebay Services aims to help 100 people a year in Eden and North Cumbria recover from mental health difficulties by volunteering there one day a week for up to a year.

Under the supervision of experienced therapeutic growers and mental health support staff, volunteers, who can be referred by GPs, other health services, or themselves, can rebuild confidence, learn new skills, benefit from peer support and be helped to achieve their goals, such as returning to employment or education.

Volunteers will work in Growing Well’s new market garden enterprise at Tebay Services, which will supply salads and other leafy vegetables fresh every day to the Tebay Services Farmshop & Kitchen, where they will be cooked and served to customers just a few hundred metres from where they are grown.

Growing Well Chief Executive Mary Smith said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Westmorland Family to bring our unique model to a second site in Cumbria, which will open up our service not only to the people of rural Eden and Penrith, but up the M6 as far as Carlisle. There are big gaps in mental health services, an ever-growing need post-Covid, and rural isolation is a particular problem.

“With a large proportion of our site investment costs covered by Westmorland Family, today’s announcement from the National Lottery is the final piece of the jigsaw and means we have more than half of our running costs covered for our first two years.”

Westmorland Family Chair Sarah Dunning said: “We are delighted to be to working in partnership with Growing Well on a project that will help to address one of the great needs in our community, which is mental health.”

She added: “We are a business that has locally sourced food at its heart, so we are excited about being able to source freshly harvested, pesticide-free salads and vegetables on our own doorstep.”

The National Lottery funding announced today comes from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, and was made possible thanks to National Lottery players who raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK.

Duncan Nicholson, Head of Funding for the North East and Cumbria region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the expansion of Growing Well’s mental health services in Cumbria.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will provide those affected by ill mental health with the help and support needed to get back into education and employment, enabling them to prosper and thrive. We are excited to see the impact of the project on people’s lives and the benefits it will bring to the local community.”

Michael Boaden, from Carlisle Eden Mind, welcomed the news, saying: “We are delighted that Growing Well are developing services in the Eden area. We have long been admirers of the innovative work they have been doing for many years in the south of the county and look forward to developing and, dare I say growing, our partnership working as the new service progresses. Congratulations to all involved in this exciting venture.”

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Borders, said:  “I am so excited about welcoming a new Growing Well site at Tebay Services. It’s a great partnership between a well-known local business and a truly inspiring charity; and just goes to show what we can achieve by working together.

“Rural mental health is one of my absolute priorities. Recently I triggered an EFRA Select Committee Inquiry into the issues facing people throughout the more remote parts of the UK, and I’ve spoken on the subject in Parliament a number of times.

“That is why it is so heartening to see such important work being done right on our doorstep. It’s really positive news for our area and I cannot wait to visit soon!”

The project, which will create four new full-time jobs, will be sited at Tebay Services Northbound on the southern side of the Tebay Services Caravan Park. It will fully open to its first horticulture volunteers in January 2023, but it is hoped there will be some opportunities to work on the site build and first planting of crops from October.

Westmorland Family is providing the rent-free site, support in kind to carry out the initial groundworks, and £150,000 capital funding to provide polytunnels, raised beds, horticultural equipment and a building to house a site office and meeting space for staff and volunteers, and to purchase a minibus to transport volunteers from different communities each day to and from Tebay.

The family-owned business has also committed to buy up to £40,000 of fresh produce, including leafy green vegetables and salads, from Growing Well’s raised beds and polytunnels, giving the charity vital guaranteed income.

Growing Well has successfully operated from its 6-acre site at Low Sizergh farm outside Kendal for 18 years. It became a fully registered mental health charity in 2019.

Chief Executive Mary Smith added: “We are a real-world food enterprise as well as a mental health charity so when Westmorland Family approached us with this opportunity for a second Growing Well it looked like a perfect fit.

“They are providing a superb accessible site, a supply chain on the doorstep for our quality produce, most of the start-up funding, the chance to tell our story together to millions of their customers, and a national profile which can only help Growing Well’s further development.”

The final go-ahead for the project was dependent on the success, announced today, of the ‘Growing Well: Reaching More Communities’ bid to the National Lottery.

“We responded to the challenges of Covid with a growth strategy that responds to the growth in need for more services like ours,” said Mary,  “and we are so excited that our plan to replicate Growing Well’s work in new Cumbrian communities has begun.”

Mary added that Growing Well was already actively exploring opportunities for three further sites in West Cumbria, Barrow and Carlisle over the next four years.

Growing Well will also be recruiting support volunteers, who support the staff working with beneficiaries, volunteer minibus drivers, and volunteer community fundraisers.

To find out more about referring to Growing Well, or getting involved in any way, please email

Photograph: Growing Well trustees and staff met with Westmorland Family directors and staff on Wednesday evening to sign the partnership agreements that will set up a second Growing Well at Tebay Services, opening in January 2023. Pictured front are Growing Well Chair of Trustees Dr Marion Cheesbrough, Westmorland Family Chair Sarah Dunning, with, back, from left, Richard Eccles, Growing Well Head of Development; Claire Urquhart, Westmorland Community Manager; Mary Smith, Growing Well CEO; Nabil Subuh, Westmorland Family CEO; and Paul Cambre, Growing Well Head of Horticulture