Dorset Mind charity grows ecotherapy support to 3 NEW sites across Dorset!

Dorset Mind is excited to announce their ecotherapy group support, Eco in Mind, is expanding to three new sites across Dorset from 17th April. The new groups are targeted at specific groups – carers, families and friends of people living with dementia, NHS and Blue Light workers, and patients at a GP surgery. Delivered in partnership with trusted organisations, the new locations are at Ferndown with the Growing Compassionate Communities initiative; Shillingstone with The Big Yellow Bus Project; and Shaftesbury based at Abbey View GP Surgery in connection with Shaftesbury in Bloom and the Blackmore Vale surgeries.

The local charity champions a whole-community effort – all produce grown at the new allotments will go to local foodbanks or communities, and residents at Moretons Abbeyfield Wessex Care Home are assisting the local project by planting seeds and nurturing seedlings, ready for growing at the Ferndown Dementia Friendly allotments.

Ecotherapy is known to support better wellbeing – gardening just twice a week improves wellbeing and relieves stress according to BBC’s Science Focus. National Mind describes ecotherapy as a ‘formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature,’ something the Dorset branch of Mind deliver on their allotments.

The charity has seen positive outcomes from work on their established allotments in Dorchester and Weymouth, supporting local adults and young people – 100% of participants’ mood were improved or maintained over sessions (81 sessions delivered in 2021/22) and 100% people would recommend Eco in Mind’s support. Activities are base around the evidence-based Five Ways to Wellbeing – that are proven steps to increase wellbeing including getting active, connecting, taking notice, learning, and giving back.

Sharon Best, Eco in Mind Development Coordinator says, “I am so pleased that Eco in Mind will reach even more people across Dorset. We’re aiming to support different people such as carers, paramedics and Blue Light workers, alongside opening adult sessions in community growing spaces and a medical centre. This expansion will demonstrate how following the Five Ways to Wellbeing outside in nature supports mental wellbeing in the community.

Linda O’Sullivan, Dorset Mind CEO says, “Echoing what Sharon says, connection and being outside in nature are proven to fundamentally improve people’s wellbeing. By collaborating with chosen partners in different locations, we can develop what we’ve learnt from several years serving Dorchester and Weymouth – and roll this impactful service out across the county, helping normalise the conversation about mental health in our communities.”

Dr Andy Mayers, Dorset Mind Patron and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University adds, “I am delighted to see the expansion of Eco in Mind. The benefits of using nature to boost mental wellbeing are clear, but this is also an opportunity to teach environmentally friendly methods to grow produce. Everyone’s a winner!” 

To find out more about Eco in Mind, follow this link, or email us directly at

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