Cultivating Wellbeing with Roots

Enabling a space to grow through fundraising


This April, thousands of people from across the world are taking to the streets of London to run for their favourite charities. Some of whom will be running for Roots, a project led by Help & Care. Keep up with the campaign by following #RunForRoots on social media.

In this article, Gary Finch, Charity Hub Manager, explains a bit more about the value of this project which has been in operation since 1989, and why donations from the London Marathon are so vital.

If you wish to donate, you can give any amount small or large by following the link here:


Tell us a bit about Roots…

Roots provides a gardening service in Bournemouth and Poole to older and disabled people who can no longer manage their garden and a ground maintenance service to commercial properties. 

The service is delivered by a team of volunteers who are all adults who have been affected by mental illness as a part of their recovery pathway.  They are trained and supervised by the Help & Care Garden Services Manager. It has been in operation since 1989.


Why did you get involved in the first place?

I have been very supportive of the Roots project since starting with Help & Care in November 2000 because I believe that having a positive relationships with people, work and environment is essential for overall wellbeing. I started directly working with Roots in 2018.


Have any moments stuck out for you as particularly memorable?

As well as delivering a garden maintenance service Roots provides a nurturing environment for our volunteers that enables opportunities for aspirations to grow.  One of our volunteers went onto to become a paid employee with the service, who then asked if H&C could support his interest in tree surgery. We sent him on a chainsaw course and he was so passionate about the work that he went onto pay for a ‘ropes and climbing’ course himself.

These experiences and the course then led to him running his own tree surgery business. 


We’re becoming increasingly aware of the power of nature, it’s sometimes even prescribed by our GP! Why do you think that is?

Most of human history has been spent in and as a part of ‘nature’ and it’s still the place where we get most of our resources. An opportunity to have a relationship with soil, plants and trees is a way to ‘ground’ and insulate yourself against the constant changes and challenges in a modern society.  It’s a way to take a breath and slow down and be reminded that not everything needs to progress at a breakneck speed.


How and why do people join the service?

We recruit new volunteers in lots of ways, sometimes when they’ve been in hospital a long time and are coming out. However, these people are often in a low place and it’s quite challenging to enthuse and provide the vision of how things could be once they are back in the community. I’d also like to emphasise that the service is for anyone who is affected by mental illness and not restricted to people coming out of hospital. Anxiety and depression have a huge impact in our society and spending a short time with us could really help people as a part of a coping strategy.  


What do you think would happen if Roots wasn’t here?

Many of our volunteers have described Roots as a lifeline – for some of them once they have left hospital there is little by way of informal support and we know that statutory support is stretched to supporting people in crisis.  It has acted as a service that helps people avoid “falling through the cracks”. For many of our more vulnerable customers, the work we do in keeping their gardens presentable makes them less likely to be targeted by scammers and opportunist crime.


What are your hopes for the future?

To continue supporting adults that have been affected by mental illness, helping those that use Roots as a stepping stone back into paid employment while also to help those who wish to sustain their ongoing recovery.


Anything else you’d like to add?

We know that people are generally happy and content when they have good relationships with others, are physically active and have something meaningful to contribute to society.  Roots is proud to be able to provide all of these and more for our volunteers and paid staff.


What next?

Every year Help & Care receives fundraised income from people choosing to support the Roots project by running in the London Marathon. You can read more about fundraising with Help & Care, and getting involved in the London Marathon here. Every penny raised by our runners goes directly to supporting the continuation of the Roots project.

Would you or someone you know benefit from taking part in this service?

If you are in the Bournemouth and Poole area, please call 0300 111 3303 and ask for the Roots team (press 1) who will discuss your needs and eligibility for the service. The hourly rate for a team of workers is £25.00. All information on the project can be found here.

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