A TOWN is set to blossom this summer with the help of a new community gardening project.

Mental Health North East (MHNE) has partnered with North East housing association Karbon Homes, to run its latest health and wellbeing project called Planting for the Future in Stanley.

Thanks to a grant of just under £5,000 from Karbon, the mental health charity hopes the project will improve the local environment across South Stanley, while building new local networks, improving mental health and reducing isolation within the community.

With hands on support and guidance from the Planting for the Future team, budding horticulturalists in the area will get the chance to develop and create new designs for their gardens, and work together to learn about appropriate plants and fruit and veg that they can plant and cultivate.

They will also be encouraged to come together to share knowledge and ideas, and support one another with their garden makeovers.

Yvonne Ritchie, MHNE’s Planting for the Future project manager, said: “We’re really excited about this project which has so far been incredibly well received by residents in South Stanley.

“Planting for the Future is our way of encouraging the communities here to come together, to get to know one another, build friendships and strong support networks, and work collectively to improve the appearance of the areas where they live."

MHNE chief executive Lyn Boyd said “Similar projects we’ve run elsewhere have without a doubt confirmed that engaging in sociable, outdoor activities, such as gardening, can provide real, tangible benefits to people with poor mental health and those experiencing isolation, and we hope this project will provide valuable support to those who need it most.”

Karbon has donated £4,906 from its Investing in Communities grant scheme to the project, which will cover a range of costs including equipment, plants and seeds, community group events, and professional support from the project’s resident landscape gardener, Roy White of Northern Aspects Landscape.

The grant will also fund the running of holistic therapy sessions, which offer those within the local community who struggle with poor mental health the opportunity to improve their wellbeing and educate them on coping strategies.

Stacey Brown, community connector at Karbon Homes said: “Poor mental health and high levels of social isolation are both major issues, and it’s a pleasure to be able to support the work that MHNE is doing in the region to combat them both.

“The Planting for the Future project is an excellent example of two organisations working in partnership, helping to shape the communities and places where we operate."

Formed in 2005 by representatives from organisations across the North East mental health sector, Mental Health North East works to improve, protect, and raise awareness of the mental health services available in the region.

Neil Kelly, chair of Mental Health North East added: “Without the support of local organisations, MHNE wouldn’t be able to carry out these incredible projects and we are extremely grateful to Karbon, not only for the funding they have provided but for the ongoing support they have offered to ensure the project is a success and its achievements are sustainable.

“We hope that the project will be a catalyst for change in the area, encouraging the wider community to take an interest, consider improvements to their own gardens or provide support to ongoing garden makeovers.”

MHNE is holding a Planting for the Future Garden event at St Stephen’s Community Centre in South Stanley from 11am to 2pm on Saturday May 25.

For more information email yvonne.ritchie@mhne.org.uk or call 0191 411 1962.