Blog: Sowing the seeds of good mental health

By Deborah Stuart, Director of Wellbeing & Safeguarding

This week, 9-15 May is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). Mental health is something we take very seriously at Grand Union; this includes the wellbeing of our customers and our colleagues.

The theme of this year’s MHAW is loneliness. Loneliness was put under the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic; the importance of connecting with others was highlighted.

Connecting with others and being involved in a community is great way to nurture wellbeing. That’s why our Community Investment team recently ran two pilot ‘Gardening for Wellbeing’ schemes, based on the principles of social and therapeutic horticulture.

There is plenty of evidence to show that gardening and contact with nature is good for you, plus it has the bonus of being great for the environment too.

We worked with NHS social prescribers, who are connected to GP surgeries and their patients to take a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

The pilot was a great success; we ran 28 gardening sessions. In total we delivered 202 hours of therapeutic horticulture!

We used mental wellbeing questionnaires throughout the project, which showed that the wellbeing of all participants improved from the beginning to the end of the sessions. The social value of the project was also evident and quotes from those involved highlighted the benefits of gardening in the community.

Loneliness is a huge problem in the UK, but connecting with others, especially while getting out in nature, is a brilliant way to address this issue. I’m very proud to share the hard work of our Community Investment team this MHAW.