Green shoots of recovery

A new initiative aimed at improving the wellbeing of vulnerable or disadvantaged people is being launched in the Bournemouth area.

Housing Association BCHA’s Growth Project will use horticultural activities to help participants overcome a range of difficulties such as unemployment, mental health, substance abuse and social isolation.

Based primarily at BCHA’s New Leaf Company allotment in Throop, the six-week training project is open to anyone over the age of 19 and unemployed.

Those taking part will learn about fruit and vegetable growing, wildlife conservation and plant identification, as well as stress-less methods and mindfulness.

The scheme is supported through project and partnership funding by adult learning service Skills & Learning Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole.

It is part of the Bournemouth 2026 Community Strategy in which local government identified a need for increased volunteering and employability.

Project leader Kate Coughlan said: “The Growth Project is aimed at improving the wellbeing of vulnerable or disadvantaged adults using a range of bespoke horticultural and personal development activities and support.

“It will provide a range of education, training and support to enable clients to become more active, healthier and less isolated – allowing beneficiaries to cope more effectively with everyday life pressures. It will also aim to increase their chances of achieving and sustaining independent living.”

Kate added: “If you are facing any of a wide range of issues – such as mental health, learning difficulties, unemployment, substance misuse, social isolation, or low or no qualifications – then this course could be for you.”

The 2.2-acre allotment includes plenty of space for fruit and vegetable growing, three poly tunnels, a herb/butterfly garden, a summer house, an apple orchard and three ponds.

The first course runs on Thursdays from 10am to 2.30pm beginning with an enrolment session on October 18 at the New Leaf allotment with lunch, drinks and travel expenses provided.

In the event of adverse weather conditions it will be held at BCHA’s Head office, St Swithun’s House, in central Bournemouth.

The New Leaf Company, based at The Factory in Alder Hills, Poole, is the not-for-profit social enterprise arm of BCHA which aims to improve the lives and the environment of people living and working in Bournemouth and Poole.

It provides residential housing and commercial repairs and maintenance, a co-working hub, catering contracts, conference and training rooms, office rental, gardening and cleaning.

To find out more email BCHA at newleafallotment@bcha.org.uk or call 01202 410500.

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