When we began the community consultation process, which shaped the early development of Woodbank Community Food Hub, one of our priorities was to identify opportunities for partnership working with existing community groups and organisations working in Stockport. One of the first organisations we made contact with was Signpost Stockport for Carers, who are an independent charity providing free, confidential information and support to unwaged carers in Stockport. Eighteen months later, we are very proud to say that this relationship is still going strong.
“Signpost Stockport for Carers believe that caring for someone should not be a barrier to leading a fulfilling life.One of the biggest issues for carers is lack of time to themselves. Our Carers Connect project works to ensure that carers do feel that they have the permission and opportunity to take time to do the things that they enjoy, and that will benefit their wellbeing. There’s little better than spending time connecting with nature, sharing food (and laughs) with others whilst learning something new. So we were absolutely delighted to start working with the Kindling Trust at Woodbank”. Julia Hewer (Deputy Director)
Through conversations with Signpost and the carers they support we learned that carers often experience poor wellbeing as a result of the pressures of caring for another person, and that social isolation can be a big issue. What we are able to offer at Woodbank felt like a really good fit for carers experiencing these challenges and, together, we came up with some ways of engaging carers in activities at the site.
We now run a monthly coffee morning and gardening session, where our group of carers get the chance to feel the therapeutic benefits of gardening in a social environment, while helping with the work of producing locally grown, organic veg from the hub. We also run regular group cookery and gardening sessions, modelled on our ‘More than Medicine’ social prescribing programme, which provide carers with the opportunity to improve their wellbeing through growing, cooking and eating together.
Julie continues “We were excited to receive the news from the carers as to what they had cooked, picked and sown each week. The feedback that we received confirmed that taking part was having a fabulous effect on the wellbeing of those that attended - both physically and emotionally”
Partnering with Signpost to provide these opportunities for carers at Woodbank has been an experience which has continued to demonstrate in full colour, how things like spending time outdoors, growing food and cooking and eating together can help people to become healthier and happier. With the cookery groups taking home a bag of organic veg each week, and the carers who come to the monthly gardening session harvesting and taking home veg they have helped to grow, our work with Signpost is also helping us to achieve our objective of increasing access to local, organic veg for people living in Stockport.
Here’s what some of the carers we have worked with have to say about the time they spend at Woodbank:
"I come here to have some 'me' time. I used to enjoy cooking, but the fun went out of it when family members became ill. Coming here has regenerated the idea of cooking for pleasure"
"Coming here has opened up a whole new world for me. I’ve learned about growing fruit and veg and I'm always out in the garden at home now pottering around. It gets me away from everything that’s happening at home.”
“Now I know how to do it, I am going to grow potatoes, green beans and anything else that's not too difficult, in my garden! The best thing about taking part has been meeting new people, being part of a group and learning how easy it is to grow your own fruit and veg"
Our work with Signpost continues. Monthly gardening sessions take place on the first Monday of the month between 10.30am and 12pm (excluding bank holidays). Our next cookery and gardening group begins in July, and in August we have two very special opportunities to create and enjoy an afternoon tea, using produce from the community garden.
For more information contact Signpost on 0161 442 0442