Money does grow on trees for Mind
Posted Tuesday 8 April 2008
Mental health charity wins £8.8m to fund eco-projects that will tackle stigma and promote mental wellbeing
Today, the Big Lottery Fund has awarded Mind £8.8million from its Changing Spaces programme to start up an exciting new grants scheme. 'Ecominds' will fund projects across England that will help transform local environments and build the confidence and self-esteem of people with mental health problems.
Ecominds aims to reduce the stigma and social exclusion faced by people with mental health problems by funding environmental projects that bring people together right across the community. Over the next five years Ecominds will award grants up to the value of £250,000 to 125 environmental projects. Examples of eco-projects eligible for funding could include returning habitats to their natural state, starting up recycling initiatives or community agricultural projects.
Schools, community groups and voluntary organisations will be encouraged to apply for funding. They must develop plans that show how they intend to rejuvenate their local environment but most importantly, show how they will involve local people with mental health problems on their eco-project.
Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer said: "Ecominds will help Mind to tackle the stigma and social exclusion faced by people who experience mental distress. By bringing people across communities together with a common aim we will be transforming not just the physical environment of communities but also the outlook of people within them. It will open the public's eyes to the skills and talents that people with mental health problems offer.
"Ecominds also presents us with an opportunity to challenge traditional perspectives about treatment options for people with mental health problems. Research by Mind has shown that Ecotherapy, the combination of nature and exercise, is extremely beneficial for mental wellbeing, reducing stress and depression and boosting self-esteem. Ecominds will give more people the chance to participate in structured green activities and take advantage of a natural alternative treatment."
A local Mind association scheme in Solihull is already proving just how beneficial ecotherapy projects can be. Almost 14 years ago the association took on a derelict site and have transformed it into a beautiful, tranquil space for horticulture and recreation projects. GPs routinely recommend the Solihull Mind project to people experiencing mental distress.
Julie Bennett, Horticulture Project Coordinator in Solihull, said: "People work very hard on the site. Digging, lifting, planting and pruning are all great exercise, but people don't think about it as exercise. Here, you can spend half an hour digging potatoes - you get the exercise and you also come away with some lovely organic vegetables. It's certainly not as intimidating as a gym.
The project's vegetable plots provide fresh, organic food for service users and for meals at Solihull Mind's day service. Neighbours buy the rest - just part of the project's engagement with its community. The project provides an excellent opportunity for service users to get work experience, break down barriers, and see how their efforts are appreciated.
Sir Clive Booth, Big Lottery Fund Chair, said: "The Changing Spaces programme can do so much for communities, from improving local environments and regenerating green spaces to supporting the growing and use of local food. It will also promote wellbeing – which is why we are delighted to announce Mind as an award partner today. The Ecominds scheme plans to support some innovative projects around the country that will not only improve the local environment, but also the mental and physical health of people with experience of mental distress."
Notes to editors
Ecominds is a new funding scheme administered by the mental health charity Mind. For more information about Ecominds or Mind please contact the Mind press office on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 e: firstname.lastname@example.org ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817.
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
The Big Lottery Fund distributes half of all National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to the lives of disadvantaged people and the wellbeing of communities, through fair and open funding of people, projects and programs.
For more information about the Big Lottery Fund and the Changing Spaces programme please contact the Big Lottery Fund Press Office on T: 020 7211 1888 or M: 07867 500 572