Redbridge clergymen support use of churches’ green spaces to promote community mental health

PUBLISHED: 15:45 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 22 May 2018

Rev Chris Burrows of St Laurence Church in Barkingside. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Rev Chris Burrows of St Laurence Church in Barkingside. Photo: David Mirzoeff


Clergymen in the borough have welcomed a nationwide initiative encouraging churches to use their green spaces to improve mental health within their communities.

Rev Dr Jack Dunn at his Wanstead churchRev Dr Jack Dunn at his Wanstead church

A nationwide survey of more than 1,000 clergymen by the Church of England shows that the proportion reporting mental health as a “major” or “significant” problem has increased from 40per cent in 2011 to 60pc in 2017.

The Green Health Awards launched this month with the aim of rewarding churches across the UK for using their gardens and churcyards to promote wellbeing.

Ten winning projects will receive an award certificate and a set of gardening tools at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on October 2.

The Recorder spoke with clergymen in the borough to learn more about their perspective on mental health in the borough and their green spaces.

“Well I could certainly consider myself as part of that 60pc,” said Rev Chris Burrows of St Laurence Church, in Donington Avenue, Barkingside.

“There are various members of my church who struggle with their mental health.”

He added: “As a church we are looking to support them as best we can.”

The church has previously used its green space to create temporary “garden of peace” and are considering making this a permanent feature.

He added: “We would set up benches and a sort of prayer walk, for [the garden] to be a space of meditation and contemplation.”

Wanstead Parish have also been playing an active role in supporting surrounding green spaces.

“We have been doing activities in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, [in Overton Drive, Wanstead],” said Rev Dr Jack Dunn.

“They are very much about encouraging nature.”

The ancient graveyard of the Grade 1 listed St Mary’s church is involved with Wild Wanstead - an initiative to turn the town into a garden nature reserve.

Commenting on the nation-wide award scheme, Rev Dunn added: “It’s brilliant.”

“They are establishing that direct link between these types of project and wellbeing.

“That is what is so exciting about this.”

The awards are open to all churches and Christian organisations in the UK.

The deadline to apply is July 31.

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