Abbey Physic Community Garden

Comic Relief recently made a grant to the Abbey Physic Community Garden, a beautiful half-acre walled garden in the heart of Faversham, which supports a wide range of vulnerable people, placing emphasis on the therapeutic benefits of horticultural and outdoor activities.

The Need: Swale has the second lowest proportion of economically active people in the eastern and coastal Kent area. It also has the second lowest life expectancy at birth in eastern and coastal Kent, and the highest burden of health need for people with mental illness. Just over half of the garden’s members have mental health issues. Other issues include long-term unemployment, physical health problems and disabilities, learning difficulties, homelessness and alcohol and drug misuse problems.

The Difference Made: The project aims to relieve the needs of people with mental health issues and provide relief to those who are socially and economically disadvantage, to enhance both physical and mental wellbeing, strengthen their confidence and support them to re-integrate into the wider community with a view to returning to work or education.

As well as providing activities adapted to suit the varied individual needs of members; enabling them to develop life skills and coping strategies, undertake training, achieve qualifications and pursue employment opportunities; there are also plans to host educational visits for school children and develop action teams to go out into the wider community to use their skills.

Abbey Physic Community Garden

People with mental health issues who are not well enough to take on regular paid employment are often seen as unable to contribute to society and make a positive difference in the world. I certainly felt that nobody valued me either as a person in my own right or as someone with abilities to offer others. But at the garden, I can contribute towards making it a welcoming, beautiful and peaceful place. This benefits our many visitors, who really appreciate the positive and tranquil atmosphere. I am bringing healing to other people's lives as well as my own.
Member of the garden team.