Published: 00:07, 03 March 2019
| Updated: 09:03, 03 March 2019
A mental health support group is encouraging its members to get outdoors.
Talk It Out in Deal was set up as a weekly depression help group by Tracy Carr and was joined by retired psychotherapist Marie Jordan seven years ago.
Its growing membership saw it convert into a daily wellbeing café, which has been so successful in helping sufferers it was awarded £10,000 by Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.
Members describe why they love the Lost The Plot allotment
Now, in addition to a homely hub in Victoria Road, Deal, the group has been donated an outdoor space, which they’ve named Lost The Plot.
Thanks to the Telegraph Road Allotments committee, members have a 50x30 yard plot offering them an alternative place to escape the stresses of daily life and seek peer support.
The previously “unloved” site was taken over by them in October and now boasts raspberries, broad beans and shallots plus apple and pear trees.
There’s also a memorial garden for loved ones, a kid’s corner with rainbow carrots and tomatoes, man-made water butt and compost systems - and a tea-break shed donated by Martin and Bernadette Dunster.
Mrs Carr comes from a family of farmers. She used to have her own plot at the site and advocates the benefits of being outdoors.
She said: “We already have our wellbeing centre indoors and we wanted to have that same sort of camaraderie outdoors.
“The purpose of us being here is to promote health and wellbeing.
“The great outdoors is a natural serotonin. The sunlight increases all the happy hormones.”
KentOnline reported in December that crisis calls to police were down by 75% in Deal after the volunteer-run service opened.
Now up to 100 members regularly attend each week, some of whom have previously been on the verge of suicide.
Mrs Carr added: “Someone can come up here and can be so anxious but within half and hour they’re in their own relaxed world.
“We dig, we plant, we laugh, we cry but most of all we have lots of fun.”
Tony Morgan said: “I feel a lot better after coming here. Not just for physical reasons but emotional ones.
"These days people can talk about anxiety and depression, it’s no longer taboo.
“I find it’s a lot better than going to counselling sessions or a gymnasium.
“It alleviates depressions that can set in, especially if you live on your own which I do.”
Joy Hadaway said: “You come up here and you can unburden yourself.
“The fresh air around you, you can here to birds, people digging away and it’s just really relaxing. You just forget about all your other stresses.”
Chloe Friend added: “It’s a safe haven for people who are suffering with mental illness. Tracy welcomes any age to come up here. My little boy is five and he comes up here sometimes.”
The wellbeing cafe at Deal Ability in Victoria Road is open 11am to 1pm Monday to Friday.