December 2020 - Page 17

EXCHANGE

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BUILDING TRUST

Specialist family workers

at South-West based charity EDP have completed a 12-week programme aimed at improving health and wellbeing at isolated gypsy sites in rural Dorset . The workers wanted to help
A previously isolated gypsy community has been receiving much-needed specialist support from EDP , reports Kerrie Clifford
improve the wellbeing of those residents most in need , as well as provide advice and support on alcohol and drug use . Wellbeing packs containing nutritious food as well as sanitary items were delivered three times a week , and within six weeks of the project starting opioid
substitution therapy was being provided alongside on-site advice on drug and alcohol issues through the REACH programme – a partnership between EDP , Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust and Essential Drug and Alcohol Services ( EDAS ). The Hepatitis C Trust also attended the site to allow residents to access free BBV testing .
‘ It can prove extremely difficult to engage with the gypsy , Roma and traveller ( GRT ) community , so we have been especially delighted to have won the trust of the community ,’ said Beth Davies , head of service and development at EDP . ‘ By delivering the REACH programme , we have been able to provide much needed support to people who can sometimes be forgotten by society .”
‘ It has been a privilege to work with and get to know my local GRT community ,’ added Rachel Clements , a specialist family worker at EDP . ‘ It has given me the opportunity to build an understanding of how life is for people and the daily challenges they face . It ’ s taken weeks to build relationships – however this has grown over time and I feel confident the community will contact REACH EDP if ongoing support is needed in the future .’
The support enabled people to speak openly about their lives and struggles , and following expressions of concern about the upcoming winter EDP sourced donations of winter clothing and engaged a community member onto an online university course . While EDP has links with the traveller community dating back more than ten years , during the peak of the pandemic the charity also arranged for workers in the area to deliver medication to the sites , which helped cement the trust between site residents and EDP staff .
Kerrie Clifford is marketing & communication manager at EDP Drug & Alcohol Services .
For more information on Dorset REACH service call 0800 043 4656 or visit www . edp . org . uk
‘ I PUNCH MY WAY FROM BENEATH IT AMONG TREES , BIRDS AND PLANTS ’ is how Emma Mitchell describes part of her battle with clinical depression . Her diary is a year inside her mind , from October to September – down to suicidal ideation and up to moments of exhilaration in nature .
Suffering from seasonal affective disorder ( SAD ), by January ‘ it becomes difficult to move ’ at all . By March Emma has thoughts of taking her own life and begins to act on them . ‘ I drive to the A11 . There are bridges there ’. Then in a supreme instance of the nature remedy she sees saplings growing at the side of the road : ‘ trees , green , relief ’. Emma

DEAR DIARY

Mark Reid is moved by Emma Mitchell ’ s testimony to the healing power of nature
heads home and tells her husband how unwell she is .
Improved mood is very slow in coming . By late April Emma is in the garden more as the weather warms up . She responds to every sign of spring . The release of pain merges into relief and joy , especially when Emma is lucky enough to hear nightingales in May . In their lovely song there is ‘ intense emotion that is almost unbearable ’. She suddenly sees her depression clearly for what it is and , unusually , gives herself credit for fighting it with all she has , to ‘ just about wriggle free . I let the tears come ’.
Making up for lost time , in the lightest months Emma seeks
The Wild Remedy : How Nature Mends Us – A Diary by Emma Mitchell . Pub : Michael O ’ Mara Books . unspoilt places to try to banish dark thoughts . She identifies an incredible array of wildflowers with wonderful names including among her favourites water avens and fairy flax . They grow in meadows which have never been subjected to fertilisers , escaping intensive farming which has made so much land ‘ a factory ’. Hawthorn also earns a special accolade for the intoxicating scent of its exquisite blossom and the claret colour of its berries . Emma says that Hawthorn is soothing nearly all year round and she feels ‘ intensely grateful towards this tree ’.
Emma follows the latest science to verify nature as a key supplement to her medication . Plants produce protective chemicals which we breathe in , and soil bacteria trigger serotonin in our brains . Depression can mean , above all , ‘ an overpowering self-hatred ’. Yet in this diary Emma Mitchell achieves its direct opposite : a liberating self-expression in celebration of the beauty of nature .
WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM DECEMBER 2020 – JANUARY 2021 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 17