New allotment project supporting young people’s mental health complete

Wooden Spoon Leicestershire recently visited the Focus allotment to officially open the project.

Focus is a Leicester-based young people’s charity who strive to transform young people’s lives through inspiring and empowering projects and volunteering opportunities that improve local communities.

With the help of a £15,000 grant from Wooden Spoon Leicestershire, the Breathing Space project has come to life – the allotment, where young people who are experiencing mental health issues, work together alongside staff and volunteers helps to develop their confidence, resilience, self-esteem and coping strategies as they grow healthy food, engage with the local community and enjoy a slower pace of life away from the pressures of school, social media and the city.

The allotment was opened in honour of Wooden Spoon Leicestershire longstanding committee member, Bleddyn Jones, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Bleddyn was involved with Wooden Spoon for over 20 years and was the unmistakeable voice of Leicester Tigers match commentary on BBC Radio.

Leicestershire committee Chairman, Malcolm Foulkes-Arnold, said of the opening:

“It was an emotional and empowering day to be able to re-visit the Wooden Spoon allotment to officially open the project and see the fantastic work that has been carried out pre and post pandemic. The young people from Focus have worked extremely hard to bring this project to life and it was great that Wooden Spoon Leicestershire have been able to offer our support. The allotment has created an environment that will enable young people to manage their own mental health and provides an eye-catching site that draws in the local community. At the opening we saw first hand how this allotment has already made a difference to the young people lives and also brought together the local community with local allotment holders working together with the young people to pass knowledge and the young people in turn helping the older allotment holders with manual help such as digging.”

Emily Taylor, Director of Communications & Partnerships at Focus Charity said:

“Without the support of the Leicestershire & Rutland Wooden Spoon Committee the creation of this outdoor learning site would not be possible. It has given us a space to work with young people away from technology and the constraints of a class room environment and enabled us to keep giving that much needed face to face support through the pandemic to the young people that need it most.

“At the allotment young people participate in a flexible support programme using our outdoor learning environment to improve their mental health, social connections, build on their basic skills and develop a positive outlook on their life. They grow healthy foods, maintain the area, build intergenerational relationships with the allotment community members and create a space of social interaction and support in the restorative benefits of the outdoors.”

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