Community connections - a project by Jen Grant, QNIS Specialist Community Public Health Nurse

We are delighted to share this inspirational story from our core charity, QNIS. We hope that you enjoy reading a first hand account of how funds raised at our garden openings, supported those in a local community.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme (SGS) has been funding the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) since 1931, and we remain hugely honoured to be supported by this remarkable group of gardeners. The funding received from SGS goes towards supporting community nurses and midwives in their endeavours to address health inequalities in their communities.

Nurses like Jen Grant, who is a qualified Specialist Community Public Health Nurse currently working within School Nursing as a Team Leader supporting two staff teams which cover vast areas across the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland. The School Nursing teams work with a school aged population of children and young people aged 5 - 19 years old, to provide early intervention and prevention support, for identified health and wellbeing needs.

Contributions from SGS enabled us to partner with C3 Collaborating for Health to support Jen in a project to engage more closely with early intervention and prevention work in the wider community, to support children and young people to consider their community and their environment, and to recognise that they could be the change for positive outcomes for theirs and others’ health and wellbeing in their identified community.

The community group that Jen worked with really embraced having a voice to evoke change for their own expressed needs. The biggest change has been the level of confidence the children and young people have had to participate and engage within their community and build positive relationships with trusted adults while learning about their health and their environment. Jen says that the stand out moment for her was the motivation and dedication of each child and young person to attend every session of the community project, even when it was physically challenging. And she adds that to have children and young people say they want to continue the project work and support other children to learn and participate in future projects made her heart sing with joy!

On site at local Police Scotland HQ

The projects are mainly about building community connections and caring about yourself and the community around you. In one project young people from the local Youth Auchmuty Group (YAP) (for young people aged 12-18) support the local primary school P7 class (who would be transitioning to High School after the summer holidays) to engage with a gardening project at the local Police Headquarters. The project enabled young people to learn about weeding, tidying, ground preparation, planting and feeding birds. This allowed older peers to take on positive role modelling to younger peers.

Jen Grant, Photo Credit: Lesley Martin

The police sergeant has suggested this will be an ongoing project with more schools in the area to support transitions to meet older peers and develop positive relationships with the police. The children and young people in the gardening group have received an award that can be academically counted - the Hi5 which will give them the equivalent to a National 3 award.

We are delighted to have supported Jen with her project and are pleased to hear that the work will continue. Another potential community garden has been sourced within their precinct area, where they are in talks at the moment about connecting with another community group to develop and flourish the land. The YAP group is also planning a residential trip to engage in outdoor activities to continue learning about the environment and enjoy being outdoors while maintaining physical fitness and better mental health and wellbeing. It’s great to be able to share this work with you and demonstrate how, with the support of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme community nurses are helping to encourage young people to appreciate the value of the outdoors and green spaces, and to protect and enhance their local environment.

With many thanks to Jen Grant for leading this wonderful project and for sharing her story.

You can find out more about the work of QNIS here

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