How You Can Help Tackle Social Isolation in Your Community
Recent research shows up to 50% of older people living in care never go outside and they are twice as likely to experience severe loneliness as those living in the community. A local organization, Growing Support, is using a pioneering approach to tackle such isolation. They run gardening clubs for people living in care to help them stay connected with the outdoors. The clubs use fun, engaging activities specially designed to increase opportunities for light exercise, sensory stimulation and social interaction.
There is strong evidence that gardening as part of a group can help people feel a renewed sense of purpose, reduce agitation and improve sleep and appetite. To help more people benefit from this approach Growing Support are currently looking for volunteers to support their trained horticultural therapists in running the clubs in care homes.
In the last year 28 new volunteers have joined the Growing Support team, helping them to deliver over a 1000 hours of support. Bristol based volunteer Debs said “The gardening activities revealed how much pleasure can be gained by involvement in a simple task such as holding a trowel, dead heading a plant, sniffing herbs or perhaps just quietly chatting over a flower or a picture. I was astonished how quickly the time passed and how richly involved it had felt.” When asked if she would recommend this kind of volunteering she replied “Yes, absolutely and I have already. I feel genuinely valued as a volunteer.”
All volunteers receive an induction, support from a mentor and access to further training. There are regular volunteer meetings and Growing Support cover your travel expenses. Growing Support stressed you don’t need to be a gardening expert!