New Beginnings

The Monday group (called New Beginnings) is a gardening group designed to support people who are experiencing severe and enduring mental ill-health. As well as undertaking gardening activities and getting real benefits from working with nature, you will also get the support of The Balsam Centre's mental health worker who will help you to discover strategies for coping with your difficulties.  There is an element of self-reflection, and lots of mutual support -  hearing that other people have similar problems to yourself, giving you the confidence to say how you feel. Not looking too deeply into the past, but looking at the present day and the future. When we look at the past we should focus on the strengths that got you through a difficulty and how these can be built on.

To make sure we plan activities to match everyone’s needs, you will need a referral form (either from your support worker, GP or CPN or completed by yourself with the mental health workers support). You will also have an individual programme plan that clearly identifies your goals.

The Horticulture worker will plan appropriate horticulture or other outdoor activities to meet individual goals outlined in programme plans.


Activities that the group undertakes

The development of the orchard is a long term project where group members will be preparing soil and planting up half standard fruit trees, bush fruit and autumn cane fruit. There might also be chickens. There will be group investigation of different types and formats of community orchards, and training days with orchard specialists.

We will also undertake work in the vegetable and herb gardens. There is a lot of plant propagation and cut flower production

The Monday group will link with art groups, textiles and other creative groups at The Balsam Centre so that the gardens are used to their full creative capacity. You will discover other groups and services at The Balsam Centre that might capture your interest!

How will we record and measure our progress?

Members of the group should begin to evaluate their existing skills, These might be skills to help with emotional difficulties, skills that help us cope with a crisis, life skills or work skills. These can be recorded on your programme plan.

Members of the group should regularly fill in a diary sheet so that they can begin to see how the project is helping them make positive life changes.

We will always contact people who are absent and have not let us know. You will get a phone call to make sure you are OK and perhaps encourage you to come in if you are feeling particularly un-motivated or lethargic on that day!

Monday Timetable

  • 10 - 10.15am

  • Coffee / tea and discussion on tasks for the day. This is an opportunity to ask how we are, but not to dwell on negative aspects of our emotional feelings if we are feeling down or anxious.

  • 10.15 – 12 noon

  • Morning Activities

  • 12 noon – 1pm

  • Lunch

  • 1 – 2.45pm

  • Afternoon activities

  • 2.45 – 3pm

  • Diary sheets and evaluation

Because group members are mainly trying to build structure and stability into their week these times are strict. Previous group members have indicated that this has been beneficial for them. If you do get anxious and need 5 minutes away from the group then a drink and a short sit down somewhere quiet is fine!