Rest & Reflect at Lindengate
Our Charity Services Manager, Helen Mee recently visited Lindengate mental health charity, to catch up with Charlie Powell, Co-Founder, to hear how the charity have responded to COVID-19.
They closed their 5-acre site to gardeners (as they call service users) on 18 March and things were looking very uncertain. With many of the team furloughed and having limited staff on hand to maintain the gardens, thoughts soon turned to how the charity could pivot and create a dedicated service to address the mental health challenges COVID-19 has given rise to.
Charlie and her team, with support from The Clare Foundation, decided that they needed to do something to help local NHS staff and other keyworkers who were working long hours in the frontline, often with very little support.
The Rest and Reflect initiative, which launched in June, offers keyworkers the chance to visit Lindengate for much needed time out, an opportunity to connect with nature and escape from the stresses of work. The drop-in service is completely free, and sessions run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays. As restrictions ease, Lindengate have now opened their doors to anyone who might be struggling with the effects of COVID-19 and isolation.
The Clare Foundation awarded Lindengate seed funding to help get Rest & Reflect off the ground, we also wrote a letter of support, articulating the nature and scale of the unmet need (that the initiative would address). Charlie believes it was thanks to the partnership with The Clare Foundation, that her team were able to leverage all the funding for Rest and Reflect in a matter of weeks and launch the new service in June.
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“Working alongside The Clare Foundation has been great, not only because of the kick start that the funding gave us, but also because of the peer support that we have had from their team. When treading unchartered waters, it is always good to have others to sound ideas off and benefit from additional experience and expertise. The partnership has also been fantastic leverage for spreading the word about Rest and Reflect and Lindengate in general. We have for a good while understood the strength that can be found in collaboration and partnership and it has been a real pleasure working with The Clare Foundation to pioneer such an important addition to our programmes”Charlie Powell, Co-Founder, Lindengate
The feedback from visitors has been overwhelmingly positive and shows just how much this service is needed. Lindengate were featured on BBC South on Friday 17 July talking about their services and the impact their therapeutic gardens have had on the community. You can watch the full clip here.
It is also great to see Dave on the programme who is a new volunteer matched to Lindengate through the Volunteer Matching Service organised by Buckinghamshire Council, Community Impact Bucks and The Clare Foundation. We were delighted to be actively involved in recruiting the volunteers necessary to run the Rest and Reflect drop-in sessions.
To find out more about the Rest and Reflect programme and if you would like to visit their therapeutic gardens in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, please see their website https://lindengate.org.uk/rest-reflect-programme/