We’ve had a go at asset mapping in various venues, but the SAMH Spaces Conference at Redhall Walled Garden in Edinburgh was our first attempt in a garden … and what a special event it turned out to be.
Originally the kitchen gardens of nearby Redhall House, this beautiful, hidden space is now host to a SAMH project
“… a beautiful 18th Century Walled Garden within a 6 acre estate where SAMH offers training in horticulture, conservation, maintenance skills, ITC/admin and life skills for people with mental health problems”.
It’s just one of the many examples of therapeutic projects that we heard about during the day, providing training in horticulture while developing skills and confidence.
Spaces 2012 brought together people from mental health organisations, NHS Scotland, environmental groups and others to meet and learn from each other but, in particular, to experience at first hand some of the activities discussed.
It redefined audience participation!
(photo from TCV Scotland’s Flickr Set)
People dug holes, made seed bombs, wove willow and made fire. So, why were we there?
It was a great opportunity for us to introduce ALISS to participants, to make connections and to illustrate how ALISS might help to illustrate the extent and nature of horticultural therapies across Scotland. Asset mapping is one of the ways that we find new discoveries to go into the Engine, but it’s also a good way to explain what ALISS is all about. So we brought along some simple tools – just a map of Edinburgh, some forms for people to use to describe the local assets that they recommend or work with, and some sticky arrows.
By the end of the day we had mapped around 30 new discoveries, some quite unexpected, some just at the embryonic stage – a piece of land and some willing volunteers ready to start work.
What was exciting though was that each form didn’t just mean a data point, it was the beginning of a conversation. We learned about Green Gyms, community gardens, an art gallery established to create employment opportunities and experiences for people with Autism, Historic Scotland’s Ranger-led activities in Orkney and Trellis, an organisation with a list of over 170 horticultural therapy projects and organisations around Scotland. During the opening presentations we heard some compelling stories of recovery through activity at Redhall , in particular a poetry recital which moved us to add the first poem to the ALISS collection.
You can see all of our discoveries from the day here.
So yes, we found some new resources for the Engine but more importantly we had some really useful conversations that felt like the start of something. Hopefully the feeling was reciprocal.
There’s a lot we took away from the day – here are just some of them:
- We had a go at geocaching – in a nutshell, hide something in the wild, give it a GPS coordinate then map it somewhere such as this. Send people off on a treasure hunt to find the hidden object and ask them to log their visit. Fun? yes. Useful? well, how about adding a new dimension to walking groups? or using it to describe locations of those services or self management resources where postcodes just won’t do?
- links were made between the activities on offer and NHS Lothian’s mental health strategy A Sense of Belonging.
- lots of people are creating maps of services, greenspaces and some are creating mobile apps – ALISS can help to bring together and share data to make these services even richer resources…
- time in the wilderness can have real benefits for people living with schizophrenia – Rab Erskine compressed a day’s worth of discussion into about 15 minutes but we would have loved to have heard more…
- there’s interest in green prescribing but we missed the session discussing it – again, we would love to know more about this…
Thanks to everyone for organising the day, putting on the activities, making the flapjack and welcoming us so warmly to the event.