Lara’s story

It got me out of the house, doing things, achieving things and socialising again.

Lara had a good job, was earning good money and felt positive about her future. Then, one day, she was unexpectedly made redundant. Endless unsuccessful job applications left Lara with feelings of failure and with no income and mounting debt, she had to move back to her parents.

Over the following 12 months a series of distressing events resulted in a deterioration in Lara’s mental health. Having developed obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression, she began to withdraw from society.

Lara started treatment at the Joseph Palmer centre who recommended she joined the Community Allotment project, but Lara didn’t think gardening was for her. With encouragement from her Mum, Lara agreed to give it a try.

At first, she was nervous, and didn’t want to talk to others on the project. But, with time, she began opening up. She soon discovered she loved being outside with other people and got a great sense of accomplishment from seeing the things she had planted change and grow.

“It got me out of the house, doing things, achieving things and socialising again”

Lara remembers feeling she was the only person in the world dealing with feelings of depression. Meeting others who were going through similar challenges, in a place where there was no judgement or pressure, helped her with her feelings of isolation.

“It was like a light-bulb moment – I am not alone.”

Lara’s love for gardening blossomed and she decided to pursue a career in horticulture. Now Lara has been offered a job working for a Horticulture and Arts centre for special educational needs and disability (SEND) adults.

“I’m excited about making a new start. I feel like I was able to achieve this because of the Community Allotment, the environment, and the people.”

Walton Charity owns several allotment sites across Elmbridge. Our Community Allotment in Walton on Thames encourages people who feel isolated due to physical or mental health conditions to attend regular activities and learn new skills.