Delivering therapeutic farming: Mary Smith

Delivering therapeutic farming: Mary Smith

Delivering therapeutic farming: Mary Smith

Introduction

People with mental health problems who live in isolated rural communities face difficulties in accessing support, due to long travel times and few available services. In north Lancashire and south Cumbria, around 12,500 of the GP-registered population have a declared mental health issue. Around half will be referred for talking therapy but many will not engage and for those that do, waiting lists can be as long as 24 weeks.

"My Fellowship has opened more doors than I could ever have imagined." - Mary Smith, Fellow

Charity CEO Mary Smith (CF 2019) runs Growing Well, a rural mental health charity that uses therapeutic farming as an alternative to talking therapy. Coming from a farming community, Mary became aware of the mental health challenges faced by people in the farming sector who are often reluctant to engage in talking therapies.

Since completing her Fellowship, Mary has created a blueprint that replicates the Growing Well service delivery model of supported volunteering and vocational and life skills training, with a view to this approach being widely available across a variety of social contexts and locations. With this blueprint, Mary is now working to support other communities beyond her own. Growing Well has now successfully developed and implemented a market gardening pilot programme in Barrow-in-Furness, with a third Cumbrian therapeutic farm site now in the planning stages.

Through her work at Growing Well, Mary has found that building people's emotional resilience through meaningful activity and training is vital to their recovery and sense of purpose. Her Fellowship to Norway and the USA researched the governance and funding of models for care farming that support mental health.

Mary says, “I wanted my Fellowship to bring further credence to the concept of recovery through activity and for this to be prescribed for people experiencing mental ill health as well as talking therapies. My Fellowship has opened more doors than I could ever have imagined, and the platform provided by the Churchill Fellowship has accelerated the progress of my work so that more people can be helped by this approach to mental health recovery, sooner.”

"My Fellowship has opened more doors than I could ever have imagined." - Mary Smith, Fellow

Charity CEO Mary Smith (CF 2019) runs Growing Well, a rural mental health charity that uses therapeutic farming as an alternative to talking therapy. Coming from a farming community, Mary became aware of the mental health challenges faced by people in the farming sector who are often reluctant to engage in talking therapies.

Since completing her Fellowship, Mary has created a blueprint that replicates the Growing Well service delivery model of supported volunteering and vocational and life skills training, with a view to this approach being widely available across a variety of social contexts and locations. With this blueprint, Mary is now working to support other communities beyond her own. Growing Well has now successfully developed and implemented a market gardening pilot programme in Barrow-in-Furness, with a third Cumbrian therapeutic farm site now in the planning stages.

Through her work at Growing Well, Mary has found that building people's emotional resilience through meaningful activity and training is vital to their recovery and sense of purpose. Her Fellowship to Norway and the USA researched the governance and funding of models for care farming that support mental health.

Mary says, “I wanted my Fellowship to bring further credence to the concept of recovery through activity and for this to be prescribed for people experiencing mental ill health as well as talking therapies. My Fellowship has opened more doors than I could ever have imagined, and the platform provided by the Churchill Fellowship has accelerated the progress of my work so that more people can be helped by this approach to mental health recovery, sooner.”