Allotment scheme helps grow wellbeing

Castle Vale allotments are part of new social prescribing project.

Compass Support, the charitable subsidiary of The Pioneer Group, has launched an allotment project as part of its social prescribing service. The service helps North Birmingham Primary Care Network to support patients with non-clinical factors that are affecting their wellbeing.

Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a social prescriber. During engagement with each person, a social prescriber will explore with the person what matters to them and non-clinical issues that are effecting their wellbeing. A social prescriber will signpost and refer the person to a range of local organisations and services to support their health and wellbeing.

Richard Moss is heading up the project and joined Compass Support in September 2020 as a Social Prescribing Link Worker. Since this time the service has received over 170 referrals in six months.

During lockdown, many activities traditionally held inside were put on hold, and support services were primarily providing support over the phone. Due to this gap in service provision, Richard sought to partner with the Community Environmental Trust Birmingham to deliver an outdoors support session. This would not only provide the opportunity for people to engage in person but also to take part in some physical activity.

Each session takes place on Tuesdays at Castle Vale Allotments off Farnborough Road Shannan Poyner from the Community Environmental Trust runs the sessions and Richard Moss provides support for people who are attending. Initially, the group worked to maintain the Castle Vale Conservation Area and now they are clearing the allotment ready for planting, allowing the group to grow their own food.

Running since November 2020 and throughout lockdown, groups of up to ten people meet together for social support and a chance to go outside. So far there has been good weather every Tuesday. There has been feedback that sessions have provided people with something to look forward to each week, friendships have formed among regular attendees and the group has grown since the initial session.

Residents who benefit were previously socially isolated and the allotment project helps with both mental and physical wellbeing and spending time in nature.

Referrals for social prescribing are received from surgeries in Castle Vale, Sutton Coldfield and Erdington as Compass Support is working with North Birmingham Primary Care Network.

Social Prescribing Link Worker Richard Moss said: “The coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in people struggling with their mental health, and there has been a rise in the incidence of social isolation. We’re providing an opportunity to get outside into nature and meet new people, build friendships and support each other.”

To be referred to the social prescribing service, contact your GP or other healthcare professional.