I feel incredibly honoured and grateful to share this testimonial with you, written by a recent Life at No.27 allotment holder….
“In March 2022, I saw an advert on Facebook about Life at No.27 and to reach out if you felt you needed help with your mental health. I’d previously started DBT therapy but because I was a new mum, they said I was unable to take my baby along to the sessions and so I was back to square one in terms of seeking help. When I saw this Facebook post from Annabelle, it intrigued me as despite never having any experience of gardening or growing from seed, I love being outdoors and know that it helps me with my mental health. I bit the bullet and thought “well I’ve tried everything else what have I got to lose”?
I booked an initial consultation with Annabelle which I was ridiculously anxious for but she was approachable, understanding and kind. She literally took all the hard work from me and contacted my GP to get the referral so I could access the service. The whole process only took a matter of two weeks, incredible as NHS waiting lists for accessing mental health services I needed were months/years long.
I soon started with Annabelle and it gave me a safe space to talk about my feelings and worries, and even better she welcomed my son with me any time I needed.
I literally started from scratch with my knowledge of allotments/gardening and before long, I was growing my first lot of seeds. Annabelle helped me make a plan and guided me through the whole process. It wasn’t long before I was introduced to other members of Annabelle’s team, Jenny and Helen. Both wonderful humans that between them have bountiful knowledge on gardens and mental health and super helpful if you needed advice and felt like I developed great relationships with them.
In summer 2022, I was harvesting my first lot of vegetables. It brought me so much excitement and joy and I loved having the time twice a week to do something I loved. However, Summer 2022 also brought a new challenge to me. I was offered a new job working with SEND & disadvantaged pupils which was something I had always wanted to do, but it meant working full time. I had only worked part time due to my mental health issues so this was a big leap for me. It also meant that the comfort & routine of having Life at No.27 twice a week would have to give, the people I’d grown to love I wouldn’t see anymore and generally a lot of change. A lot to make anybody anxious.
I made the decision to go for it and my journey with Annabelle and Life at No.27 came to a very emotional close. I felt a huge loss but felt I had to explore this new venture.
When I knew my time at Life at No.27 was coming to an end, I applied to some local private allotment sites to see if they had any availability. But everywhere was either full or I had no reply. But in October 2022, I was finally invited to an allotment site only 10 minutes away and I excitedly accepted. I am still working on my plot now, using the knowledge and skills I learnt with Annabelle, Jenny and Helen, and also with books and Instagram.
In January 2023, as part of my role at work I was expected to run an intervention of some degree. I quickly jumped at the opportunity and asked if I would be able to run gardening interventions as I know how beneficial these are to children’s mental health. My manager was delighted with the idea and now I am running a weekly program at my school for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. What a 360 turn around!
Meeting Annabelle and joining the Life at No 27 programme changed the course of my life, and I will forever be grateful for her and her team for being there for me when I felt unheard and alone. Life at No.27 was pivotal for me. I have a long way to go on my mental health journey, but knowing she will always be there if I ever needed her again, is comfort enough to try to work through life’s challenges.”