Today, 9th March 2023, is Social Prescribing day. Earlier we posted an article written by social prescriber Chanel about her role, and now we’re sharing Uchenna’s story of how social prescribing helped her during a difficult period.
Gardening together was a lifeline
What do you do when your flat is being flooded from upstairs, your landlord can’t help, and you are a single mum with two boys who was let go from her job during COVID and is becoming more and more depressed?
You go to your GP. And that is just what Uchenna Eneke did in June 2021 when this was happening to her.
Recognising that what she needed above all was help with housing, her doctor referred her to Augusta Adu, social prescriber for Star Lane Medical Centre in Canning Town, Newham, north east London.
Augusta gave her advice about who and when to call and, shortly afterwards, invited Uchenna to the Star Garden group she had set up.
The group grows fruit, flowers and vegetables in raised beds outside the practice. People who attend share tips about gardening and life, encouraging and supporting one another.
“It’s an hour every Tuesday when we garden and chill out together,” says Uchenna, 40. “We share stories of our childhoods, listen to music, have a nice bit of banter and laugh. It’s like family.
“If anyone’s low, we encourage each other. At the end of the session, we share out the food that’s ready to harvest – potatoes, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, chillies, tomatoes, strawberries. You take it home and post a picture of your meal later. It’s very inspirational.”
All summer, even when she was in emergency housing in Forest Gate, Uchenna attended the group. In January 2022, when she and her sons were rehoused, she knew how to tend the garden she now has, yet still carried on attending the planting group because she enjoys it so much.
“Gardening together was a lifeline,” says Uchenna, whose Christian faith is intensely important to her. “And I found it through social prescribing. I would encourage anyone feeling low to reach out. There is help and hope.”