With the growing challenge of mental health problems in their local communities, churches are finding new and creative ways to provide practical and appropriate help. One such is the successful Green Health project where churches are encouraged to share their small pockets of land with local mental health organisations for therapeutic gardening. A joint initiative of the Church of England, the Guild of Health and St Raphael, The Church Times and The Conservation Foundation it was launched with a conference and awards in 2018 and is the subject of Green Health Live 2 next month.
A day conference for all those interested in the healing environment, from churches, chaplains and charities, to horticulturists and healthcare professionals, Green Health Live 2 takes place at Lambeth Palace on 5 June 2019, World Environment Day.
This year’s programme explores the practical aspects of therapeutic gardening with insights by the teams behind these projects, as well as the research and theology underpinning the work.
Among the speakers will be public health expert Jim McManus who will be considering mental health within the parish and Harriet Gross author of The Psychology of Gardening. Personal accounts of how gardening helped them personally will be given by best-selling author Rachel Kelly and former politician, journalist and now prison chaplain Jonathan Aitken. Geraldine Brown, a Research Fellow at Coventry University, will present new research on how gardening helps prisoners’ mental and physical wellbeing, with positive outcomes for those living and working in Wandsworth Prison.
The winners of the inaugural Green Health Awards will describe how they created a therapeutic garden at St Paul’s Church, Camden Square which is used by the patients living under section at St Pancras Hospital. A film of the St Paul’s project will also be premiered at the event.
Taking part in a panel discussion will be Suzanne Hyde, clinical director of the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, Elizabeth Henry, the Church of England’s National Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns and Alex Laird, Founding Director of Living Medicine. Gillian Straine, Director of the Guild of Health and St Raphael, will speak on professional support available. Isabelle Hamley, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, will give details of the Lambeth Palace Mental Health Conference in October.
Delegates and speakers are invited to start the day with some gardening in the Lambeth Palace garden. Tickets at £45, including lunch can be booked online at www.churchtimes.co.uk/green-health-live