Eco-therapy project officially launches in Dorchester

Eco-therapy project officially launches in Dorchester

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:44am 6th February 2020.

An allotment in Dorchester could help with people's mental well-being.

The GAP Project is a new 'eco-therapy' scheme for people with mental health problems.

Trained and experienced volunteers from Dorset Mind will be on hand to support people as they work on the allotment, with the aim of using gardening to build self-esteem and confidence.

Mark Meyer and his wife Claire from Meyers Estate Agents came up with the idea.

Mark says he wanted to set up the scheme after suffering three years of depression and anxiety, as well as witnessing his father go through the same before he died.  He told Wessex FM: 

"I spent many years when I was trying to recover working as a volunteer in gardens... and there's nothing better than seeing something that you've done turn into something amazing, if you're trying to build your confidence."

The Gap Project allotments in Dorchester
The Gap Project allotments in Dorchester

Mark's mother has dementia and his dad died as her carer.

"It was obvious that there was not enough support for people like my dad.

"If we were going to do a project then it would be a project that my dad would have actually loved to take part in, which could have made a difference to his final days." 

Claire Meyers, co-found of Meyers Estate Agents said:

"The GAP project was born from the idea that some people might find it easier to talk 'shoulder to shoulder', as a group and whilst working with the earth, rather than face to face.

"We all either know someone, or have experienced ourselves, time where we need a helping hand.

"So we know this project has the power to support our local community and has the potential to grow.

"Our plan is to expand into each of our office locations as Meyers continues to grow across Dorset and elsewhere in the UK."

According to Dorset Mind spending time in a green space and connecting with others is known to benefit both your mental and physical well-being.

'Who is the Gap Project for?'

  • The Gap Project is for people with mild to moderate mental health and well-being challenges.
  • If you'd like to get help there then you can ask for a referral from a professional such as a GP, CMHT, Counsellor, housing provider or support worker.

Marianne Storey, CEO of Dorset MIND said:

"We are so thrilled to be offering eco-therapy as one of our services. It's a great way to tackle stigma, alongside some of the common barriers people face when seeking traditional mental health support. 

Working outside, having a creative outlet and being amongst nature can be a brilliant way to support well-being.

The allotment is going to be a positive space to nurture and provide fulfillment both to staff and volunteers whilst offering safe and friendly environment that the local community can feel involved in."

David Upshall Insurance Services and David Taylor (former Mayor of Dorchester) have also supported the project and contributed to the Project’s focus group.

Local people have donated their valuable time as well as vital funds to buy gardening tools and equipment.