22nd December 2023
A therapeutic horticulture service in Dundee has now supported close to 6,000 people with their mental health and wellbeing thanks to a ground-breaking charity partnership.
Growing Chrysalis, which brings people together and empowers the community to support their mental health and wellbeing through gardening and other outdoor activities, is operated by SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental health). It was launched in October 2021 using funding from the charity’s partnership with Co-op. The service is an extension of SAMH’s long-running Chrysalis service, a structured two-year programme that provides practical work experience opportunities for people affected by mental health problems.
It has now supported a total of 5,842 people in and around Dundee.
Kiera Walls contacted Chrysalis following a recommendation by her occupational therapist and later advanced to Growing Chrysalis. She shared how it helped her recover from depression and manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Kiera said: “I felt like I was flying around in a hurricane, whilst also trying to juggle, and everyone was just screaming at me to get out of that hurricane. Projects like Growing Chrysalis are so important. The physical exercise, the socialising aspect, the support I got here (particularly when I am having a bad day), just being out in nature and feeding the birds, were all good for my mental health.”
In addition, Kiera found learning new skills and being trusted to take on responsibility for her own areas of the garden helped build her confidence: “I had only been here two or three months and it was suggested that I took over some responsibility for the polytunnel. I was really taken aback that I had been trusted enough to take on this responsibility.
“I started to feel comfortable at the garden and to really open up to staff about things that I hadn’t been able to speak about before. I really felt people had trust and belief in me here.”
The garden, which regularly hosts nursery school visits, supported Kiera to find a job at an out of school club attached to a local nursery.
Kiera said: “In February I will have been employed for two years, have moved into a flat with a friend and have survived a break-up of a long-term relationship. The garden community has been here for me when I needed it and helped me through this all.”
The garden is one of 16 services funded in recent years by SAMH’s partnership with Co-op, together with Mind and Inspire across the UK, which has now concluded after five years of fundraising, service delivery and information sharing.
Sue Black, Team Leader at Chrysalis, said: “The partnership with Co-op has been SAMH’s most successful yet, and has allowed us to reach more people than ever through our therapeutic horticulture work. Thank you to everyone involved, from Co-op colleagues and customers to all the people who use our services.
“We are delighted to be able to continue delivering the valuable Growing Chrysalis service thanks to funding from Dundee City Council. This means we can support even more people like Kiera with their mental health and wellbeing in the years to come.”
Since the Co-op funding expired, Growing Chrysalis has been funded by Dundee City Council through the local Health and Social Care Partnership. That funding runs until March 2024. SAMH is seeking further funding to secure the project’s future.
Chrysalis and Growing Chrysalis are based at Duntrune community garden in Dawson Park, Broughty Ferry. The garden is open to the public between 9am and 3.30pm, Monday to Thursday.
If you have questions about mental health, or would like to learn about accessible services near you, please contact the SAMH Information Service on 0344 800 0550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The infoline is open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, except for bank holidays.