Salisbury charity gets £9,930 grant for Ecotherapy Project

Alabaré is celebrating after its outdoor project Environment in Mind which helps people with experience of mental distress won a £9,930 grant to continue its good work.

The Ecominds award comes from mental health charity Mind, on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund and is for the project which is based in Salisbury. The award comes in recognition of the project’s invaluable work to date, supporting local residents with experience of mental health problems, by using conservation work as a form of therapy. The grant is the project’s second Ecominds grant and will fund Environment in Mind to research opportunities to enable continuation of this work and develop a plan for the project’s long term sustainability.

Research shows outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate anxiety and depression – and is available locally without the waiting times, costs or negative side effects associated with many other treatment options.  GPs are starting to recognise the role outdoor projects like Environment in Mind can play in the treatment of people with mental health problems, and so the need for these services is increasing. The Ecominds grant will help the Environment in Mind project respond to this demand, against the difficult backdrop of budget cuts, changes to service commissioning and increased public demand for mental health support.

Mike Hibberd from Alabaré says: “We are thrilled to be able to fund research and development into options for the long-term viability of the project. Our participants have the chance to meet new people, learn new skills and build self esteem and escape the pressures and isolation many people feel every day. We have welcomed 82 people to this service in the last two years and, thanks to this second grant from Mind, will be able to plan a sustainable model to continue this vital project.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said: “This additional burst of BIG funding presents Ecominds projects with an incredible opportunity to provide long-term support at a local level, for those who need it most. Outdoor therapy has become a life line for many, offering an alternative form of treatment that can be maintained for life. It is fantastic that projects can now rise to the very real challenge of uncertainty and change in service provision nationally. We are excited to continue our work with projects over the coming year as they develop to fulfil the grant objectives and support those in their communities.”

Environment in Mind is one of 87 outdoor exercise projects in England to receive secondary Ecominds awards from Mind today, thanks to a further £2 million from the Big Lottery Fund. Evaluation of the Ecominds scheme, since it started in 2010,  shows the clear social and economic impact of the programme – with participants reporting improved physical and mental wellbeing, thousands moving onto further volunteering, training or paid work; and across the country, communities experiencing improved access to green spaces.