Challenging Poverty and Supporting Communities in Kincardine & Mearns
Challenge Poverty Week is an appropriate time to acknowledge the link between poverty and mental health. The Scottish Government stated, in their Mental Health Strategy: 2017 – 2027, that “poverty is the single biggest driver of poor mental health” and that equally mental ill-health can lead to higher levels of poverty.
Given our current economic climate, it’s clear that mental health support in our communities is needed now more than ever.
Recently, our AVA Development Officers were delighted to meet with two groups in Kincardine & Mearns who are an example of how communities can pull together to support each other.
Pillar Kincardine is a mental health organisation based in Stonehaven. We met with Gillian Grochla, Service Manager, who chatted with us over coffee about how they help people in the area. Pillar Kincardine’s mission is “to improve the lives of adults living in Kincardine and Mearns who are seeking help to cope with emotional, social or mental health challenges. Working in partnership with individuals, their support networks and volunteers, our aim is to help people take control of their lives, find hope and make the most of life's opportunities whilst working out their own goals and aspirations and how to work towards them.”
Gillian took us for a tour of Pillar Kincardine’s wonderful allotment space, thriving with flowers and vegetables. One feature that stood out to us was their raised planter that had been built by a group member who was going through a difficult time and needed a project to focus on. The planter has been thoughtfully created with a removable shelf to allow wheelchair users to have an accessible workspace.
From there, it was on to the pavilion to join the “Meet and Eat” group for lunch. Soup was on the menu, created from fresh allotment veggies. The room was filled with energy and laughter as everyone enjoyed their lunch and a good chat. We spoke with members of the Meet and Eat group and heard about how much the regular get togethers mean to them. One lady told us that her access to Pillar Kincardine support was what had got her through the covid-19 pandemic.
After lunch, and a brief flash flood at the pavilion (got to love a Scottish summer!), we met with Starkeeper Morton, Keeper of The Haven in Stonehaven. The Haven is a wonderful sanctuary in the middle of the town, and you feel the sense of calm as soon as you enter the building. The space is used for various wellbeing activities including mindfulness and yoga, which are very popular.
Starkeeper took us to see their new allotment near the beach. We were amazed at the size of the brambles growing there! Next was a visit to their community larder, a different model from a food bank, where no referral is needed to access it. The aim of The Haven’s community larder is to encourage all people to use it, reducing food poverty stigma and enforcing the message that there is no shame or guilt in accessing donated food.
When we think about how to Challenge Poverty, it’s important to consider our mental wellbeing and how it is impacted by, and can impact, our financial situation. There are lots of great activities going on in our communities across Aberdeenshire to help support those who experience poverty, or want to look after their wellbeing. Reaching out and talking to someone is the first step.
Visit Mental Health and Wellbeing support - Aberdeenshire Council to find mental health support.