Hi All, my name is Antony.  I am pleased to have been able to engage with The Employment Preparation Programme held at The House of St Barnabas. The course was run very professionally and has been extremely enjoyable. The training, guidance, information, encouragement and good humour certainly builds confidence and self-motivation.

I have a passionate interest in ecotherapy, also known by other names such as green care, green exercise, green therapy and horticultural therapy. These names refer to ways of getting out into the natural environment to improve physical and mental health.

Ecotherapy can be done in various ways, such as a walking group, or doing practical tasks, for example, growing organic food or conservation projects in parks, gardens, woodlands, community gardens or farms. Participating in this also increases social interaction, helps increase confidence and connects people with nature. There is often the opportunity to do educational or training courses for pleasure or to contribute to gaining employment.

I find being involved in eco-therapy very therapeutic and rewarding. I enjoy feeling as one with natures annual rhythms and cycles, appreciating that mid-winter serenity when almost all is at a stop, then the springs explosion of natural energy, growth, flowering, and then the midsummer calmness leading to Autumn’s mellowness. I have increased energy levels and feel calmer, less stressed, more mindful and focused.

I have led walks with the ‘Walk for Life’ scheme and volunteered at Mind to assist service users in ecotherapy. I volunteer at Organic Lea in London to do all aspects of organic growing, maintenance, ground preparation, harvesting and assisting people who need a little guidance. I have a level one qualification in organics and I am currently studying for level two.

I would recommend ecotherapy as a great way for better mental and physical health and a way to improve the environment. It is also a great way to become involved in a friendly caring community.

I am now looking to find appropriate employment in gardening or something with a link to organic growth and food. I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the Employment Programme at the House and thank all my fellow participants, staff, facilitators, mentors and members as they have contributed to making me feel ‘just the right side of marvellous’.