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Maldon families given a hand to grow their own ‘5 a day’

We are funding an Essex-based charity to help Maldon families lead healthier lifestyles by learning to grow their own food.

Staff from our Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service were successful in applying to the Virgin Care Feel The Difference fund to obtain a grant for Abberton Rural Training (ART) to deliver the programme for local families. The fund is a £100,000-a-year pot of money which Virgin Care employees can apply for if they have an idea that will create a better experience for colleagues or service users.

The funding will help to provide starter packs to those attending the course, allowing them access to equipment needed for successful home growing. The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service will also work with ART to refer families who will benefit onto the course.

One parent who has previously participated in the course said, “I have young children and the eldest has severe anxiety. We had tried local educational sessions before, however he struggled with it and as a result found it too difficult to learn anything.

“This project equipped me with the skills to grow with him from the safety of his home. It is something he loved to do, he enjoyed the sensory experience of planting seeds and had a great sense of achievement from seeing his food grow, there were foods he wouldn’t usually try, but by growing them, he learned to love trying them!

“We had a great time growing together as a family and are keen to get started again in the Spring, we are particularly interested in visiting the new community garden which will help build his confidence further and I can develop my own skills.”

The 12-week course will provide families with the opportunity to come together and build friendships whilst learning how to produce fruit and vegetables for the dinner table. Those who complete the course will gain an accredited ‘Introduction to Horticulture’ qualification.

Participants will benefit from healthy eating, light physical exercise, stress relief, emotional wellbeing and saving money on fruit and vegetables in the long run.

ART have been running a project with 250 households across the Maldon District called ‘Stay At Home, Grow Your Own’ since March 2020. It encourages families to explore how growing your own food can contribute to a more nutritious diet and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Zoe Oddy, our Senior Manager for the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service said, “The benefits of the course for families are endless and I’m proud that we are able to be involved in its delivery to residents of the Maldon District.

“The programme really makes a difference to people’s lives, with participants receiving an accredited qualification on completion, which has led directly to employment for some. The past year has been incredibly challenging for us all, so I’m glad that we are helping to make this programme possible, and supporting a lot of families by doing so.”

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