A gardening project in Kirkcaldy, aimed at helping people overcome mental health problems, was visited this week by members of the Scottish Government’s health and sport committee.
The Scottish Association for Mental Health’s Evergreen plant nursery initiative in Barnet Crescent gives opportunities in horticulture for people with mental health problems, helping them to rebuild their confidence while learning valuable skills in programmes specially tailored to meet their needs.
It was visited by committee members on Monday, when they saw first hand the kind of work the service’s clients are engaged in.
The MSPs also heard about SAMH’s wider work in relation to supporting mental health and saw its pantry in action – giving trainees practical experience in the catering industry.
The committee’s visit was part of pre-scrutiny process of a Mental Health Bill that is expected to be introduced later on this year, and is being seen as an example of good practice.
Duncan McNeil MSP, convener, said: “It is extremely important for members of the committee to get out of the Parliament and into communities across Scotland.
‘‘This helps inform our work when we come to look at legislation which will affect people who are supported through this project and groups like SAMH.”
Bob Doris MSP, deputy convener of the Health and Sport Committee, added: “We were delighted to visit this innovative project in Kirkcaldy that is supporting people with mental health problems.
“To be out and about in different parts of the country allows the committee to see on the ground how the policy we discuss in the Parliament has an impact on them.”
David Ross, senior instructor at Evergreen Training and Employment Service, said: “We always welcome the opportunity to give insight in to the sorts of issues people experiencing mental health problems are faced with every day.”
The committee also took a wide range of evidence on the issue of mental health at its meeting on Tuesday from a number of witnesses including the Scottish Association for Mental Health.
Established in the town in 1995, the evergreen project has helped hundreds of people with mental health difficulties over the years through tailor-made training structured around their own needs. It allows participants to progress and develop at their own pace in a therapeutic and calming environment, gaining useful skills and building their self confidence.