COALFIELDS DIGS DEEP WITH FUNDS FOR MUDDY FORK Muddy Fork, the Retford based mental health charity, has received over £5,000 in funding thanks to the Coalfields Community Investment Programme, delivered by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the only organisation dedicated to supporting former coalmining communities. The funding, totalling £5,648, will contribute towards the salary of a part time member of staff, allowing them to extend their work by one day a week. Hosted at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, Muddy Fork helps people to improve the wellbeing and health of those suffering with mental health problems through volunteer-led conservation and wildlife gardening in Nottinghamshire. As a result of the ongoing and increasing success of the projects delivered by Muddy Fork, the charity realised that investing more staff time in the promotion of their services across the community would allow them to reach out to more people who are suffering with poor mental health. Gardening and horticultural activities have been proven to be particularly effective in the treatment of mental health disorders as the activities significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and improve the overall mental wellbeing of those who attend. Robert Pedley, Volunteer Organiser for Muddy Fork, comments: “Through the use of horticultural and gardening projects we are able to reach out to socially isolated members of our community who are suffering with mental health problems and are often hard to reach.” “People who were once fearful of leaving the house are now comfortable with being in the outdoors after attending our sessions and people who felt they have no purpose start to get satisfaction from the voluntary work which they are performing. The Coalfields funding is incredibly important in providing a space for people to overcome the mental health difficulties which they face.” Andy Lock, Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, comments: “Both volunteering and horticultural work have been proven to be effective treatments for mental health disorders. The project and opportunities provided by Muddy Fork are perfect for anyone that needs support, particularly with social isolation, which we know is a common problem within coalfield communities.” “Mental health gardening has a significant role to play in supporting the NHS as it helps those suffering with poor mental health to progress after clinical support, reducing reoccurrence and preventing problems escalating and leading to further reliance on government services.” Delivered by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the Coalfields Community Investment Programme supports organisations and programmes of activity that meet with three key criteria; to address skills, employment or health.