Half Of The UK Is Lonely – And Gardening Could Be The Solution
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
During Mental Health Awareness Week (9th-15th May 2022), Miracle-Gro (www.lovethegarden.com
) reveals new research on the loneliness state of the nation and encourages people to use gardening as a way to make Friends Over The Fence. The Miracle-Gro campaign aims to reduce loneliness by inviting people to build new relationships with neighbours and others in their community.
The research shows nearly half of the UK (45%) admit to often experiencing feelings of loneliness, and a third (33%) find it difficult to talk to new people. On top of that, nearly a half of women (45%) and more than a third of men (38%) want to find ways to open-up to others.
Despite wanting to reach out to others, many find it difficult to talk to new people. However 63% said shared activities, like gardening, makes conversation and talking to new people easier. 68% think a topic to start a conversation would help them speak to new people and nearly half (53%) agree that gardening and being outdoors is a great way to meet people, as 60% find it easier to open up when doing something practical.
It’s not only strangers that Brits struggle to start conversation with. Nearly half of people in the UK (53%) said they have neighbours they want to chat to, but a third (35%) report the only time they speak to their neighbours is when they’re in the garden at the same time. However, 53% of respondents say they are willing to help their neighbour with their gardening, if given the opportunity.
Chartered Horticulturalist and TV presenter, David Domoney said:
“Gardening provides a great opportunity to find common ground with neighbours, fellow allotment lovers and even passers-by. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert gardener or a novice, chatting about gardening can open the door to new friendships and can even encourage people to open up about something they might not have done in a more formal environment.”
David is the mastermind behind UK-wide gardening competitions, including Cultivation Street, which encourages and celebrates people coming together to create spaces for their communities.
“We have seen friendships flourishing across the UK with Cultivation Street and these relationships actually have the power to transform lives.”
Professor Harriet Gross, an expert in the psychology of gardening explains:
“Being outside in nature is known to benefit mental health. A shared passion or spending time side-by-side with people doing something you love or something new, such as gardening, can prompt new conversations or connections, and even encourage people to open up about something they might not have done in a more formal environment.”
To combat loneliness, encourage conversations and help people open up long after Mental Health Awareness Week is over, Miracle-Gro is also releasing its annual wellbeing journal which can be obtained for free by visiting www.lovethegarden.com
This year, the journal includes a set of conversation starters which are helpful prompts offering ideas about how to begin conversations through gardening. It also includes free seed packets which can be gifted to act as conversation starters in their own right. They can be passed over the fence, or handed to someone in the community. The journal also serves as a great place to keep notes and write thoughts for all those conversations we don't want to forget!Digital resources can also be downloaded, including the conversation starters and a Friends Over the Fence letter which can be easily customised and sent to someone you know.