One hundred ‘Grow Your Own Salad’ kits to be distributed across the borough

Sandra Anderson, Northern Healthy Lifestyles Partnership; Heather Boyd, Groundwork NI; Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston; Marjorie Hawkins, Chair MEA Loneliness Network ; and Yvonne Carson, NHSCT

Following the success of the scheme in April, Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network has been successful in securing 100 Grow your Own Salad Kits funded by the Northern Healthy Lifestyle Partnership (NHLP).

This activity is for everyone and may appeal to older people who are also at risk at this time.

The salad kits will be distributed through organisations which sit on Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network.

The network was established in December 2019 and brings together Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, alongside others in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors, to raise awareness of loneliness, share best practice and learning on ways to prevent and address the issue, and encouraging championing of tackling loneliness in the borough.

The Northern Healthy Lifestyle Partnership is a multi-sector and multi-disciplinary group responsible for the local delivery of the regional strategy: Fitter Futures for All – Preventing and addressing overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland 2012 -2022.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnston, said:

“Loneliness and social isolation were increasing among our population, most significantly with the elderly, before the onset of COVID-19.

“Now, physical distance between loved ones and families is increasing feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

“In recent weeks older people have been experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression from spending increased amounts of time alone and away from their families. These feelings occur particularly for those who manage to stay in their own homes and are especially acute for those in care settings or who have been shielding and may not have seen friends or families for months.”

Hugh Nelson from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust adds: “Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are not only experienced by older people.

“The longer lockdown rules applied the more these feelings were experienced by people of all ages across our community.

“Whether you are living alone, cut off from your support network, or have not been experiencing the same level of day to day interactions with friends, families, or even strangers on the street, no one is immune to feeling lonely or isolated at times.”

Marjorie Hawkins, Chair of Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network, said: “We all have experienced these feelings at least once during lockdown – and it’s important to share our experiences and learn from each other on interventions and methods to balance our feelings. The Grow Your Own Salad kits are a great way of doing this.”

Meanwhile, Sandra Anderson from Northern Healthy Lifestyle Partnership (NHLP) explained: “As part of our work to encourage healthy lifestyles we are encouraging local older and vulnerable people to access one of the Salad Kits in order to grow-your-own.

“These kits will help you grow your own salad in the comfort of your own home using pots and grow-bags in place of a garden. They’re also fantastic activities to do while staying in with the kids.”

Heather Boyd, Community Gardener Groundwork NI, said: “At Groundwork NI we are committed to changing places and changing lives. Amidst Covid we did this by supplying over 1000 Growing kits to individuals, families and organisations.

“Not only have these kits enabled people to grow food that they can eat, but they have provided a purposeful activity to focus on during this difficult time, supporting their physical and mental wellbeing.”

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