BAB Voices: Growing Support
Group Work and Peer Support Pilot Project

In early autumn, we joined Growing Support at Bristol Community Links – South for their therapeutic horticultural group for older people with dementia. The group is funded by Bristol Ageing Better’s Group Work and Peer Support stream of funding.

The group originally formed about a year ago when it was working at a community allotment. When the funding which allowed them to be based there came to an end, the project moved to Bristol Community Links to work and develop their garden, while providing a space for older people with dementia to enjoy gardening, socialise and stay active.

Dale Cranshaw, Co-Director of Growing Support, guided the session alongside Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Facilitator Kath, and told us about the work of the organisation:

“All of our Growing Support gardening groups are based on bringing people together to have social contact with other people from their community and to do something meaningful as a group, preferably outside in the garden.”

Dale Cranshaw

“For people with dementia this kind of group is really important. We know that spending time outside with nature is really good for our health and wellbeing, and we also know that socialising with other people from their community and maintaining strong social networks is really important. There is evidence that doing meaningful activities keeps our brains stimulated, and keeps us happy and healthy.”

The session was lively and enjoyable, the sun was out and the participants shared their experiences of being outdoors and gardening. The morning was spent planting bulbs, re-potting flowers and generally tiding up the garden and preparing it for the winter months. These meaningful activities not only benefit the participants, but also create a welcoming space for the whole community to enjoy.

The group also worked towards making these activities even more accessible by cutting down a strip of hydrangeas to make space for a raised plant bed that can be accessed by people on a wheelchair or by those who find it hard to kneel or bend down.

This group meets every Friday from 10.30am until 12.30pm at Bristol Community Links – South. If you or someone you know is interested in joining don’t hesitate to contact Dale on  07581 281 578 or email dalec@growingsupport.co.uk. You are also welcome to pop-in and check out what the sessions are about, there is no pressure to get involved.

Dale shared with us what their plans are now that days are getting shorter and chillier: “This project is going through to April next year and we are expecting that over the winter we are going to be indoors a bit more, so we are going to be doing some green crafts, such as willow weaving, felting and making bird feeders. This sort of activity allows people to benefit from the sensory elements of using natural ingredients while working together as a group on achievable and meaningful tasks and enjoying social contact.”

Growing Support run several other social and therapeutic horticulture sessions across Bristol and are always on the look out for volunteers to support participants at their groups, please visit their website for more information: growingsupport.co.uk/get-involved/


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