Members of a GP practice have been going above and beyond to help their patients eat healthier, creating an allotment next to their surgery.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the allotment is managed by a group of patients of the practice and volunteers from Heely City Farm, who meet weekly to plant and tend the crops. All the produce grown in the allotment is put in the practice waiting room, free for people to take.
Dr Maria Read, GP at Dovercourt Group Practice said: “Our practices are in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the city, and our allotment is helping patients in two ways – we’re providing a community group that anyone can get involved in, as well as giving free fruit and vegetables to the patients who visit us.
“Many families in the area have financial worries, and we wanted to make it easier for them to get their 5 a day. It’s really important to us that patients feel supported in every area of their health and wellbeing, and the gardening group is just one of the ways we’re achieving this.”
One patient participant, aged 75, said: "You really look forward to coming each week and seeing the other people in the group. Everyone is very friendly and it lifts your spirits. You also get the benefit of seeing things growing from seed, to vegetable. It’s really amazing!"
The allotment is part of a wider push across Sheffield, where GPs will link patients up to social networks and support groups in the community. Often these groups can provide non-medical benefits for patients – gardening has been found to boost mental wellbeing and quality of life, as well as giving opportunities for physical activity and meeting new people.
NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is continuing to help practices across the city explore similar ways of ‘social prescribing’.
The Dovercourt gardening group meet every Wednesday from 11am – 1pm at the Skye Edge Avenue practice. Anyone is welcome to join. Call 0114 270 0997