“We are working with people who have experienced damaging life experiences. They include people who have escaped war, mothers who have lost children, victims of long-standing abuse and young people damaged by life and substance abuse. They do not want to live as victims. They want to be valued, to be healers and to heal themselves.
Grŵp Resilience in Pembrokeshire has received a grant of £7,880 from The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales to fund the Greener Healing project. This project will support people with mental health needs to take part in green social activity and evaluate how this affects them.
Vicky Moller, Chairman of Grŵp Resilience, which is a network of businesses, communities and organisations committed to working inclusively in the long-term interests of nature and people, explains:
“We found that many people with urgent social and mental wellbeing needs are happiest when they feel useful and doing practical things with others. This project will enrol those in need of greater wellbeing as volunteer researchers to help practically in community gardens and similar social ventures. They will research the effectiveness of the activity over time.
“We are building greener healing from the grass roots. The National Lottery money will also provide practical help to social ventures and community gardens and support a coordinator to take care of the volunteers.”
The funding enabled one of the volunteers, Leoni Jenkins, to take a horse called Monk to the reopening of Monkton Community Centre in Pembrokeshire. The centre recently reopened under new management, Dezza’s Cabin, a self-help social needs charity providing peer to peer support. In Vicky Moller’s words, “Dezza’s is turning tragedy into empowerment, with a sprinkle of help from Grŵp Resilience. “
Leoni Jenkins, who is a volunteer at Dezza’s and Grŵp Resilience, said:
“I have had troubles nobody should, I have experienced emotional pain that is worse than physical torture through the loss of my children. However, I refuse to be defined by this pain. Working with Monk has honestly kept me alive at times. It has taught me simplicity, patience and compassion.
“The horse-human relationship is unique; horses mirror human emotions. This sensitivity offers feedback to a person because of the horse’s powerful stature. They allow people to overcome fear.”
Leoni told us about one experience her and Monk had that will stay with her forever:
“A Dad approached us with his very shy, non-verbal daughter. She was interested in Monk but froze by fear of the other humans around. Her dad leaned down, picked her up and put her on Monk. Wow! An instant smile. We did a 20-metre circle and on our route back, out of the blue the little girl responded to a question I had asked ten minutes earlier. She said HER NAME! Her Dad could not believe she had spoken and I know it’s down to the magic in Monk, and in any horse.
“There are parents who have also expressed a concern to me that local drug dealers are using their children to run drugs. These children are aged between 12 and 16. At least two of them came and met Monk at Monkton Fete. For those few moments, I watched them come alive and just be children.
“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if other people who struggle with anything could find comfort in the same way I have. It would give children the chance to learn life skills that have kept me alive and sober! Unfortunately, this all comes at a cost and so for the most vulnerable and poorest of our communities, these skills are completely out of reach.
“My wish would be that we can help people learn the life skills that have very often kept me alive at my most troubling times.”
Ruth Bates, Head of Communications at The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, said: “This project is an excellent example of how community groups and volunteers support the people who rely on them. National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Last year we funded over 8,000 projects across the UK to bring communities together, over 7,500 supporting health and wellbeing. I hope this grant will enable Grŵp Resilience and the other projects receiving funding this month to continue offering support to the people and communities who really need it, and continue to change lives.”
Grŵp Resilience is just one of 87 communities in Wales which shared more than £1 million (£1,099,866) this month. To read about the other projects, open the attached document.