Dementia friendly community allotment
Peaceful place works with individuals living in the early stage of Dementia, who choose a more active life than traditional day care services. Through Find Your Active Places and Spaces funding, Active Essex were able to support the refurb of two community garden allotment sites, to enable Peaceful Place members to safely engage in gardening activities.
Dementia can be a lonely isolating experience. Engaging with others, both peers and the wider allotment community in a meaningful environment, reduces the sense of isolation from the wider community with the added value of creating natural opportunity of conversation, increasing self-esteem whilst being in a therapeutic environment that nature offers.
Following feedback, members of Peaceful Place requested opportunities to take part in more outdoor-based physical activities, and after spending 3 years on a waiting list for a community allotment, they were allocated two sites next to each other.
Active Essex worked in partnership with Basildon Council and Bowers Gifford Allotment Association to help support the physical and mental wellbeing of members. The Find Your Active Places and Spaces funding enabled Peaceful Place to create a safe space, which could be accessible for all. The funding helped to create safe walk paths with wheelchair access, install raised beds to ensure they were accessible to all users, and provide seating at the raised beds for those with physical limitations of standing for long periods. A safe fencing structure around the allotment has also been installed to safeguard the members and ensure they can freely roam the allotment area without fear of them leaving the allotment space and potentially putting themselves in danger.
There are several benefits to gardening for individuals living with Dementia:
- Sensory stimulation
- Form of physical activity
- Improved attention span
- Increase in strength and balance
- Provides a sense of purpose
- Reduces social isolation
- Improves connectivity
- Peer support
- Slows down the progression of Dementia
- Giving back to the charity through the produce grown. This is important where they are actively supporting the charity, rather than being recipients of support
Active Essex first worked with Peaceful place back in 2021 when they received tackling inequalities funding to help expand their physical activity timetable and access leisure centre activities. This project continues post funding and leisure centre activities is currently one of the most popular activities for members to take part in.
Gardening is such a great way to enjoy the outdoors as well as completing gentle exercise. It’s also really exciting that this funding will allow much needed upgrades to a local allotment plot and help expand Peaceful Place’s weekly activity offer.Juliette Raison, Thematic Lead for Active Environments