We have a new allotment site, and all are welcome!
Dig in to our sessions and make some new friends...
Projects which aim to support people in the community with a wide range of social, emotional and practical needs come under the umbrella term ‘social prescribing’. There is evidence that social prescribing leads to positive outcomes for individuals who are referred by their local GP and social prescribing team to professionally-led community projects. Our local Social Prescribing team are Jason Bowles (Community Wellbeing Officer at Involve Wokingham) and Milly Randall-Davies (Social Prescriber) and they are working with Twyford Surgery to refer people to a new local project, Twyford Growers run by Age UK Berkshire.
Twyford Growers is based at the Hurst Road allotment site and the initiative came from Cllr Rohan Abeywardana. His inspiration came partly from a talk given to Twyford Allotment Tenants’ Association by gardening writer and founder of Life at No.27, Annabelle Padwick, about her work to create an allotment therapy site in Towcester and the benefits of allotments for mental health. Thanks to a grant from Twyford Parish Council and the backing of Age UK Berkshire, Twyford Growers is taking off.
We have all felt the benefit of being able to get outside during Covid lockdowns, and there is increasing research to show that spending time in nature is good for our mental health. It helps with stress relief, anxiety and depression. Christina Hughes Nind, an experienced horticultural therapist, will be leading the sessions on the plot; her aim is for people with low to mid-level anxiety and depression to experience the benefit to their mood, stress levels, and general wellbeing.
The sessions will be every Thursday, March – October (Covid rules permitting), 10.30am – 12.30pm. Christina will be assisted each week by Natalie Burton. Natalie has a plot of her own at the Hurst Road site and a wealth of experience working with groups. The team Rohan has brought together for the project includes volunteers with plots on the Hurst Road site who have, like him, felt the benefits of active involvement in growing produce.
The biggest challenge so far has been clearing the plot. Work started in October 2020 (respecting Covid restrictions) and Cllr Teresa Ramsden, Cllr Malcom Bray and Natalie have made good progress to make the plot more welcoming and user-friendly. They burned rotten wood, pruned fruit trees, filled rubble bags with broken tools, glass and disintegrating plastic and laid heavy-duty sheet plastic to suppress weeds. They even erected a shed.
There is going to be a raised planter with plants to make tea from, sweet peas, edible flowers, and lots of fruit and veg. It is not just about growing plants – the social side is important too. There will be a seating area for a socially-distanced teabreak, and encouragement to connect with other local activities, including with other plot holders.
The response to the project from other plot holders has been overwhelmingly positive and the team are eager for other residents, particularly those with defined mental health needs, to benefit from the friendly community atmosphere of the allotment site.
Christina said, ‘I am really looking forward to welcoming our first gardeners and to seeing the act of growing things work its magic.’
The team aim to receive their first referrals this spring.
If you or someone you know might benefit from this project, contact Jason Bowles at firstname.lastname@example.org or Milly Randall-Davies at email@example.com.
Alternatively, call 01344 304 404.
Cllr Ramsden helping to put up the shed on the new allotment plot.
Don't forget to apply for your postal vote!
If you want a postal vote for the local elections in May, you need to register for one by 5pm on 20 April.
To register, fill in this form https://bit.ly/3oJ0qtZ and send it to your local council. Find their details here: https://bit.ly/2MRNGns.
Make sure you have your say!
Exercise classes with Get Berkshire Active
Get Berkshire Active have some free exercise sessions on Zoom specifically for older, frail, less mobile adults, starting the week of January 18th, 2021:
Monday 10am Chair Yoga
Tuesday 11am Gentle Chair Exercise
Friday 11.15am Gentle Chair Exercise
This programme of sessions will grow over coming weeks. All sessions are led by qualified instructors and are a gentle introduction with a warm up, cool down and time for virtual socialising at the end.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting on Zoom can be a hurdle in itself, so colleagues from Mindset Massage have kindly put together an instruction sheet to help. Let Kirsty know in your email whether you would like a copy of this, and/or the code of conduct which details how Get Berkshire Active plans to keep individuals safe during virtual sessions.
Mental health resources to beat the winter blues
From the cold, dark days to the new lockdown restrictions and the long wait for COVID-19 vaccines, it's understandable to feel down in the dumps this January.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please do reach out and seek the support you deserve.
A list of some mental health charities and organisations which provide support and resources for various conditions can be found here.
Information about the NHS's talking therapies can be found here.
One of the best ways to feel better is to talk to someone. However, it can be hard, especially in lockdown or if you live alone, to find people to talk to. If you'd like a likeminded friend to chat to regularly, take a look at our Befrienders page and request a Befriender today.
Support us by buying your greetings cards!
You can now buy your cards for all occasions from Making a Difference Cards where you can choose to have all proceeds go directly to helping us help older people.
If you're stuck for present ideas, you can also add a donation to us as a gift on behalf of your loved one. Every penny we get helps us immensely, so buy your cards now and spread the word!
IHASCO Support Age UK Berkshire
We are delighted to announce that iHASCO, based in Bracknell, will be supporting Age UK Berkshire as our charity business partner for 2020/2021.
iHASCO is a provider of high-quality Health & Safety and HR Compliance eLearning with a keen focus on creativity, quality, and most of all, simplicity.
Having local businesses support a local charity is incredibly important, particularly at the current time. We will work closely with the iHASCO team to ensure that older people in the area can love later life.