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Published: June 20, 2022 | Updated: June 21, 2022

Dorset charity expands support across county as ecotherapy service blossoms in Weymouth

The ‘Eco in Mind’ project in Dorchester which is now expanding to Weymouth.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset Mind has expanded its ecotherapy service by launching a new allotment plot in Weymouth.

‘Eco in Mind’ began life in Dorchester by offering residents practical support while providing a service and a safe space for those struggling with their mental health.

The results have been described as phenomenal.

When asked, 100 per cent of participants reported an increase in their mood from the start to the end of the sessions and 80 per cent of participants – attending since January this year – claim they have seen an improvement in their mental wellbeing.

After the success in Dorchester, Dorset Mind says the new service offers the people of Weymouth a chance to build their confidence, self-esteem and resilience while connecting them with their surroundings and their communities.

Dorset Mind says working on the allotments as a volunteer or participant will help them discover the benefits of being outside and working with nature.

As well as growing bedding and other herbaceous plants, the project also grows and harvests numerous types of fruits and vegetables which are then donated to local food banks for families in the area who may need them most.

Over the last year, food from the allotments helped support over 200 families in Dorchester and the charity hopes to repeat this in Weymouth.

Linda O’Sullivan, Dorset Mind CEO, pictured left, said: “Ecotherapy is somewhat of an unsung hero when it comes to more holistic and ‘hands on’ form of therapy for mental health.

“Ecotherapy is known to improve physical and mental health whilst also positively impacting mood – and reducing stress and anger.

“You could also say it’s a form of mindfulness.

“Additionally, Eco in Mind provides its service users with a live project, which is constantly changing and growing, meaning that our participants are actively caring and nurturing something.

“All whilst learning how to actively do the same for their own mental health and wellbeing.”

Dan Bradshaw, Eco in Mind Project Coordinator, said: “The new Weymouth site is great.

“The best part about it is that we are at the beginning, which means that our volunteers and participants can see the transformation from what started as an overgrown field to what will be a beautiful space over the coming months and years thanks to their arduous work and commitment.

“There are other plots like ours, an orchard, some woodland, and forest school and there will be some classrooms and kitchen for making a product to sell to pay for the running of the site, so it is all exciting.”

Dr Andy Mayers, pictured right, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University and Dorset Mind Patron, added: “I am so delighted to see this expansion of our eco therapy projects at Dorset Mind.

“There are so many positives in using nature to improve wellbeing, including being more mindful of our environment.

“This is something close to my own heart, having recently transformed our own garden into a haven for wildlife and growing our own produce.

“The result is very uplifting for my own wellbeing.”

The ‘Eco in Mind’ team offers weekly sessions in Dorchester on Monday and Thursday mornings from 10:30am, and afternoons from 12pm; and Wednesday mornings from 9am and 2pm in Weymouth.

If you are interested in participating, or would like to know more about ‘Eco in Mind’, please email ecoinmind@dorsetmind.uk.

Mark Meyer

Dorset Mind has thanked the project’s founders and benefactors Mark and Claire Meyer of Meyers Estate Agents for creating and funding the project in its infancy.

Originally known as The GAP Project, the charity said their support enabled its mission to support and improve the mental health of Dorset residents.