The Abbey Physic Community Garden (APCG) is a National Lottery-funded charity in the heart of Faversham, supporting people with mental health issues or learning difficulties, as well as those at risk of social isolation, enabling them to be more active members of their community.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Connecting with our Community’ project has been dramatically adapted to enable the charity to continue supporting its members.
Growing its ‘phone tree’ to over 100 people, the charity offers activities online, via Zoom, including weekly Horticulture training, singing, cooking and coffee catchups, and a new eight-week course on living mindfully.
One early and well-received initiative was producing, packing, and delivering vegetable and flower seed kits throughout Faversham and surrounding areas. To support this new direction, the Abbey Physic Community Garden YouTube Studio was created – featuring the ‘90 Seconds Gardening’ series, cooking and crafts activities, and peaceful scenes from the garden for members who may be missing it.
Marking key moments
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week in May, the charity reached out to its members and the wider local community with a series of one-a-day activities for people and families to try at home – from building fairy gardens to online choir sessions to baking cakes. Marking Loneliness Awareness week in June, the Abbey Physic Community Garden surveyed local voluntary and community sector organisations to find out how COVID-19 has affected the people they support and what activities have worked well to reduce loneliness, and to explore opportunities to work together during these challenging times.
Sarah Harvey, Chair, APCG, said:
“Abbey Physic Garden is a beautiful, tranquil space, but lockdown has taught us that the most important part of what we do is the connections and support that people give to each other – whether it’s remotely or in the garden itself.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to continue the support we give. Lockdown has been challenging for many, but it has also made some people stronger, knowing that they can make a difference to others and discovering hidden seams of resilience and creativity.”