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Money grows on Christmas trees for eco-projects

Money is growing on trees this Christmas, as newly launched Ecominds prepares for its first allocation of grants. With a total of £7.5million to distribute, Ecominds is urging all environmental projects that involve people with experience of mental distress to apply. The sooner organisations do this, the better chance they have as the first round of grant allocations is taking place in the New Year.

To qualify for Ecominds, funded by the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces scheme, projects need to involve people with mental health problems in delivering a sustainable project that enhances local environments. Outdoor physical activity is proven to lift mood and improve physical and mental well-being, and working on a worthwhile project offers the chance to have fun with others, while giving people a sense of purpose and providing them with a support network.

Barry Watts, Grants Manager of Ecominds said “What better Christmas present can there be for worthwhile community projects than free money? There will be regular allocations of funding over the time that Ecominds is running, but the best chance to maximise your funding is now.”

Ecominds is based upon Mind's research into ecotherapy, which proved that green exercise provides substantial benefits for mental health. The study found that after a short country walk, 71% of people reported a decrease in depression and 90% had increased self-esteem.

Social contact has been shown to be the most important factor in gaining better understanding of mental health problems and the 1 in 4 people who experience them. By improving local environments, Ecominds hopes to promote the inclusion of people with mental health problems into their communities, breaking down barriers and helping to combat mental health discrimination.

Any group or organisation based in England and working on a not-for-profit basis can apply. To request an application pack or to find out more telephone 0845 367 1671, visit the website at www.ecominds.org.uk or write to Ecominds, 15-19 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4BQ.

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