Alex Langstaff, Karen Tyrell and Leona Graham at the allotment

We’re featuring the 5 WAYS gardening group in Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘The Lost Plot’ allotment on Woodhouse Moor has been running for over five years. It epitomises the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is ‘nature’.

It provides an opportunity for members of 5 WAYS, the Leeds centre for sustained recovery from alcohol and/or drugs, to collectively grow their own fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Leona Graham has been a member of the Grow Together gardening group since it began and goes to the allotment whenever she can.

Leona said: ”Just to be outside watching things grow, watching things flower, I can’t tell you how much it boosts me. I look forward to it so much and I was so grateful during lockdown that I was still able to come up here.

“It boosts your spirits no end. It does really help with your mental health, being outside and connecting with nature. We eat what we grow which is a really fantastic bonus. I can’t tell you what it does for your self-esteem, your confidence, your spirits.”

Karen Tyrell, Director of Humankind, the lead partner in the Forward Leeds partnership, visited and spent time with the group to find out more about their work.

Members of the Gardening Group

The Grow Together gardening group at the allotment.

Karen said: “It’s great to come to ‘The Lost Plot’, chat to the members and see what a real difference a space like this makes to people’s lives. Allowing people to spend time in a green space, being active connecting with nature and connecting with each other is so important.

“We know the principle that spending time with nature can help with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression It’s great to see it happening here, in a corner of Woodhouse, with people who in the past experienced issues with alcohol and or drugs.”

The group took on an abandoned allotment in 2016 and had to do a great deal of work to get the allotment ready for planting. Since then, the group has featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post as well as on BBC Look North in 2018.

Karen Tyrell getting some rhubarb

Karen Tyrell getting some rhubarb to take home

‘The Lost Plot’ and the Grow Together gardening group are run jointly between 5 WAYS and Hyde Park Source a local environmental charity.

Alex Langstaff from Hyde Park Source, who coordinates the group, said: “The impact of the allotment on the members and myself is incredible. Nature is so awe-inspiring and essential for our wellbeing.

“To combat the stresses of modern life, nature has become a necessity and the covid pandemic has highlighted this even more. The Grow Together group is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. That’s down to being active and working together in our shared ‘Lost Plot’ surrounded by nature.”

Grow Together is one of Hyde Park Source’s Outdoors, Active & Well partnership projects that enable people to improve their mental health and wellbeing through environmental and green activities.

Copyright 2016 Forward Leeds