It has now become widely accepted, through research and many people’s own lived experience, that gardening and being outdoors are hugely beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Gardening is recognised as having healing properties, in that it can help restore us to a sense of wholeness and offer connection to the cycle of life. This is certainly something that I have experienced throughout my own life.
Living with depression and anxiety since my teens, I felt alienated from nature and consumed by my own worries and fears about life. It was only after I left home that my relationship with gardening began to blossom, when I first started growing vegetables whilst living as a student in a shared house with a very small garden. It was with great pride that I sowed my first tomato seeds and nurtured them on my windowsill until they were mature enough to be planted outside. This process saw me connecting with nature and myself in a way that I never had before and brought about a shift in the way I viewed life. Seeing those little seedlings appear was like watching magic happen before my eyes, and with them, a sense of accomplishment and confidence in my own abilities also began to grow. My seedlings continued to develop into sturdy plants in the grow bags that became their new home and within a couple of months I was rewarded for my efforts with my first delicious home-grown tomatoes!
Many years later, after starting a family, it was with great excitement that I introduced my children to the world of gardening and they delighted in growing their own little plants. Cress seeds were particularly fun to try first, as they could be sprinkled on the earth to form letters as they grew. Potatoes and carrots were always a big hit, because harvesting them was like digging for treasure, with instant rewards being unearthed by little hands. Peas were also popular because they tasted so fresh when eaten straight from their pods. And we found that there is no supermarket competition for freshly picked corn on the cob, which was particularly sweet when cooked straight after harvesting.
In time I took on an allotment, where we grew more and bigger crops. And not only was it a productive place for growing fruit and vegetables, it became my sanctuary, a safe place I could escape to when life got too busy and chaotic. I often took with me a book to read, or wrote in my journal as I sat under the apple tree on my plot, feeling a sense of renewed peace as my batteries were recharged by nature. But as my life has continued to grow busier I have had less time to spend on there and it was with some sadness that after fifteen happy years I recently gave up my plot.
All is not lost though, and here’s another great thing about nature – it is all around us and we don’t need to travel far to feel its benefit. I am fortunate to have a back garden at home and this is where I am now turning my attention again. But even without a garden you can still experience the joy of gardening, growing flowers and vegetables in pots that can fit on small balconies and windowsills. Or you can enjoy one of the larger community gardens that have sprung up and been cultivated in many of our towns and cities.
At the moment, the world seems like a really ugly place. The news is full of illness, death rates, stress, and chaos, and seeing that on a daily basis can make us forget that the world is full of beautiful things too.
I have recently started enjoying going out for a walk, and actively looking for beautiful things. When I find them, I stop and take a photo, so at the end of my walk I have a soothing photo collection of nice things that I’ve seen that day. Not only does this temporarily take my mind off the stress of going through a global pandemic, but it also reminds me of how simply lovely the world is. You don’t have to have a fancy camera to do this, I just use my phone!
Here are some of the photos that I took on one of my walks last week!
Hi, I’m Ian – a Therapist with Harmless. The perspective I’d like to share is the importance of being kind to ourselves during this time. This is a scary situation, and if you’re feeling anxious or down, remember that those are completely normal responses to fearful situations. But also keep in mind that our emotions are influenced by our thoughts – if we’re preparing ourselves for the worst outcomes or dwelling on the things we don’t have, then we’re naturally going to feel more fear or sadness. But if we focus on the fact that every second brings us closer to the end of the lockdown and the virus, and that by isolating we’re potentially saving lives, these thoughts can help us keep calm and focused. Have compassion for yourself, and remember that this won’t last forever.
At the moment, our daily activities and routines look very different and this can leave us feeling unsettled and unsure.
If you are struggling at the moment, our suicide crisis pathway is open and offering both face to face and remote support. If you’d like support, get in contact and a member of the team will be in touch to arrange a session with you.
Referral line: 0115 880 0282 – please note, we ask that you leave us a voice message and a member of the team will get back to you within 1 working day
Hi! I’m Laura, and this week I joined the Harmless team as a Suicide Crisis Support Officer for the Tomorrow Project. I’m so excited and grateful to be a part of such a fantastic team, and I’ve been welcomed so wonderfully by everybody.
I first heard of Harmless in 2014, when I actually used the service as a client. I stopped using the service in 2015, and in January 2020 I returned to Harmless as a voluntary intern, for which I have been writing an essay about trauma. I have really enjoyed writing about such an important subject, and I’m still continuing to write it from home. As of Tuesday this week, I officially joined the suicide crisis team as a support officer. This week has been a whirl of learning lots of new things, getting to know my colleagues, and being extremely grateful for how my life has turned 180 degrees from 2014 to now. I hope that my summarised story serves as a hopeful reminder to anyone who needs it, that recovery really can happen.
I have come to Harmless after working as a support worker in a low-secure forensic mental health hospital. The hospital specialised in supporting people with personality disorders. Before this, I studied Psychology in Education at the University of York, and spent a lot of time volunteering for Nightline, a listening service for students. These experiences have strengthened my already-existing passion for supporting anyone and everyone with their mental health, and I’m sure that working at Harmless will strengthen that passion that even further.
I’m Stacey and I’ve recently joined the wonderful team at Harmless in the role of Suicide Bereavement Officer on the Tomorrow Project, supporting those who have been affected in any way by suicide.
Taking up my new role at the beginning of March 2020 gave me just a short time before the Coronavirus pandemic started to affect us all both individually and as an organisation. The team is working incredibly hard to ensure continuity of service, but as someone who has a hereditary lung condition my intensive induction training will now be continuing from home for the foreseeable future.
The commitment and dedication at Harmless towards both staff and service users has been truly inspiring, and in these challenging times everybody has pulled together – I feel privileged to be able to say I am part of that team.
I come from a varied background although my most recent role has been working as an Independent Funeral Celebrant for the last 7 or so years. I have officiated over 1000 funeral services and part of this role involved visiting families, hearing their stories and offering support. Sadly there are a percentage of those families who have been affected by suicide. It is their incredible stories and courage that inspired me to take on the role of Suicide Bereavement Officer.
On a personal level my number one self-care measure has to be getting back to nature. Most weekends will find me at my happiest sat looking out over a river, lake or pond feeding the ducks whilst the sun shines through the trees (weather permitting). On a rainy day Netflix is most definitely my second choice!
And so life continues in temporary isolation for so many of us. I am relying on social media for some interaction (there are some great groups and sites out there offering support) researching and learning everything there is to know about my new role, before the day comes when we are safe and I can actively support the team and service users as we look to hope and recovery.
Harmless are pleased to offer this exciting opportunities to join our passionate team and help us save lives. We are looking for dynamic individuals, who are willing to develop their skills; work outside the box and challenge themselves.
We are currently recruiting for a Suicide Bereavement Support Officer to join our team.
There is no set deadline for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role and we will be interviewing periodically. Once this position has been filled we will no longer be accepting applications, therefore applying early is advised.
Up to 37.5 hours per week
(Both part time and full time available)
Up to £21,819 per annum, pro rata
(Depending on experience)
Please note: Work as part of this role will take place across Nottinghamshire & Leicestershire, therefore driving will be a necessary part of the role applicants will need to hold a valid driver’s license and have access to a car to be able to undertake the position.
“Harmless and The Tomorrow Project continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation and we want to reassure you that we are working hard behind the scenes so that you can keep accessing ongoing support with minimal impact.
Although we are being proactive as an organisation, it is important to acknowledge that we anticipate there will be some disruption to our services in the future. We cannot confirm what they are at this stage, but we continue to be guided by Government, Public Health England and our closest colleagues in the healthcare profession. For now, most face to-face services remain open and you can continue to access support as you do now.
The health and safety of our clients and staff remain at the forefront of all our decisions. We have increased our cleaning regimes of support spaces and waiting areas, particularly for those that come in to physical contact regularly by other clients and our team members. In addition, we have made the following decisions:
Firstly, we are taking steps to reduce the number of people in our waiting reception area. Until further notice, people attending support sessions will not be able to bring anyone with them to unless you are a parent who needs to bring a minor or a minor who comes with a parent.
Secondly, Crisis Cafe and Drop-In sessions will be suspended with immediate effect. Email support will continue but remains limited in terms of response time and support capability.
We are also in the process of contacting clients currently in receipt of support to complete an additional form as we prepare for the possibility of having to provide support remotely. Although we do not expect to do this right now, we are exploring all possible support options for our clients. In addition, we will use the information you provide to contact you should there be any sudden changes to our services that may affect you.
Finally, we want to take this opportunity to reassure you that Harmless and The Tomorrow Project remain fully committed to providing ongoing support to everyone who relies on our services. Regardless of the barriers and challenges we may face in the upcoming weeks; we will work tirelessly to overcome them wherever possible and continue to provide the vital services we deliver.