PoLLeN - Reg's story
PoLLeN Project Coordinator tells us how the support of the project has changed Reg's life.
London-based project PoLLeN is a social and therapeutic horticulture project that offers a range of horticultural, green exercise and art-related activities for people experiencing mental distress. Reg* was referred to PoLLeN in June 2010 through his GP at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre.
When Lisa, PoLLeN Project Coordinator, telephoned Reg to arrange a time to meet, he sounded keen but on three occasions he did not manage to keep the appointment made. During the fourth phone call, Lisa was able to elicit that Reg was actually being deterred from starting because of the green gym exercise and learning elements incorporated into each session. He admitted that he felt anxious about ‘classroom learning’ because he had limited literacy skills and that due to major surgery on his back he did not want to take part in exercises.
Lisa was able to reassure Reg that he was under no obligation to join in with these activities, and that he could do as much or little as he felt able. As a result, Reg started to attend on a regular basis. Reg talked about his feelings of loneliness and isolation. He also described the physical symptoms he experienced in his ears and how constant buzzing noises often made him feel very depressed.
To begin with Reg stayed on the ‘periphery’ of the group, preferring to work alongside Lisa. As he started to form friendships with other members, he relied less on Lisa for support and worked more closely with others. After Reg had attended for a few weeks, Reg’s GP told Lisa that Reg had said, ‘‘For the first time in a long time, I sang as I walked home.’’
Through the support of the group, Reg has been able to access advice from the welfare and benefits service at the centre and has been encouraged to seek GP advice about his hearing problems which has resulted in a specialist hospital appointment.
Recently, Reg's GP stated:
If I hadn’t seen the transformation in Reg I wouldn’t have believed the power of projects like PoLLeN.
Reg took part in a photo shoot for a local newspaper, where he was happy to be associated with a mental health project. He has told me he has framed the article and photograph and hung it on his wall.
Lisa, PoLLeN Project Coordinator