Open Minds Project
Award-winning concept put forward by Liverpool’s Mental Wealth Group in 2011.
1. The World Health Organization have recently published concerning statistics that suggest the scale of depression as a mental illness is reaching levels that can be described as an epidemic. Depression is a key cause of suicide among young people. Isolation is a key cause of depression, and often this isolation can occur even when surrounded by friends and family. Open Minds’ Community Gardening project gives young people the opportunity to form relationships with strangers, with people who do not know their background, which can be essential as a form of ‘escape’ and relief.
2. Green skills obtained through the skill share initiative between young people and volunteersfrom the community, with an emphasis on recruitment from the older populations of the allotment communities in Liverpool, may be applied by students on campus in existing and future green projects e.g. Guild of Students Roof Garden project.
3. The funding will be primarily to design a campaign, recruit volunteers, and purchase any tools necessary, such as gloves and waterproof outer layers and/or high-vis vests.
4. The project has clear outcomes in the form of increased connectivity within and between different generations of a community, promoting positive perceptions of students in the community and in turn contributing positively to the social capital of an area. The funding will allow promotion of the initiative on campus, health and safety training of participants and volunteers, and adequate facilitation with equipment to ensure accessibility to the project by students with no experience of outdoor activities of this nature.
5. Without funding Clear Minds cannot afford to distribute promotional material to a wider section of the community than can be accessed for free using the Students’ Union facilities. Mainly, the procurement of safety equipment and tools would be impossible at this early stage of Open Minds as a student-led project. Any money left over will be used to print a personalized certificate and to compile an illustrated report (CD/email format) to distribute to participants and to be used as evidence for future funding applications.
6. There will be little if any reference to suicide and instead will emphasise the impact of the project on levels of health (physical) and wellbeing (Mental health). Open Minds will consider surveying a random selection of students on campus to collect opinions as to the negative/positive effects of including ‘suicide’ within promotional material for a mental health project.
7. There is no project within the Liverpool area at present which specifically links up students and older members of the gardening community. Existing student gardening projects do not have a specifically ‘health and wellbeing’ focus, either.
8. Open Minds who will organize and deliver the Community Gardening project is a student activity group based on the University of Liverpool campus.
9. Open Minds is a member of Mental Wealth UK, and as a founding member of Open Minds, I also sit on the Mental Wealth Student Committee.
10.Open Minds are in continual dialogue with the University’s Mental Health Officer to discuss all and any implications of our objectives and any projects we deliver. The Community Gardening project will be equally and robustly assessed in terms of its impact on student mental health and will be compliant with the Safeguarding Procedures as a baseline.