New community garden in Dunstable provides a path to better mental health

New community garden in Dunstable provides a path to better mental health image

Home » New community garden in Dunstable provides a path to better mental health

A brand-new community garden has opened in Dunstable to give local people the opportunity to improve their mental and physical wellbeing through volunteering in a natural setting. 

The project has been funded by Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB), on a previously derelict patch of land that is now bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables which volunteers are free to take away and enjoy at home.

Local charity Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BedsRCC) has been busy renovating the space with months of hard work by volunteers and local people who attend their centre on a regular basis. The garden features wheelchair-friendly and raised beds, a water feature, a wildlife feeding station, colourful seating, a striking mural and a mixture of flowers and vegetables. This space helps to bring people together with a shared purpose.

The official opening was staged to mark the start of Health Coaching Awareness Week (18-24 September 2023). Health coaching and social prescribing play an important role in improving mental and physical health and reducing loneliness.

Nicola Schofield, green social prescribing officer at Beds RCC, which put in the successful funding bid, said:

“Green social prescribing involves encouraging people to take up activities which promote our mental health and wellbeing through nature. We know that being in nature can be really good for us, bring us many benefits, reduce stress and can help increase positive feelings that help with anxiety and depression.

“The garden could not have been built without the energies and efforts of local people who attend the halls on a regular basis we can offer the community. We have achieved a space that can be used to help support its local residents and promote good mental health. We are delighted to have this amazing project in centre of Dunstable that is accessible to all.”

Mark Cox, Head of Individualised Care at BLMK ICB, said:

“Evidence shows that people who are engaged in their communities enjoy better mental health than those who aren’t.  There’s also plenty of evidence that spending time in nature is good for mental health and well-being, so it’s a natural fit for us to work with Beds RCC to encourage people to participate in this new project.

“Not only can they meet new people and maybe learn new gardening skills, but the literal fruits of their labours are all around them!”

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