Cherry Tree Nursery

A charity based on horticulture providing meaningful occupation in a supportive
environment, aiming to restore well-being to people with mental illness.
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Monday to Friday (all year)
8.00am to 3.30pm

Saturdays and Sundays

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Living with mental illness

'We are a network of people living with, and affected by, experiences that are often diagnosed and labelled as psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world, and help us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.' The Icarus Project.

‘6,000 people a year in Britain are recorded as having committed suicide, though the real figure is probably far higher. The universally-criticised new mental health bill is aimed at forcibly medicating psychiatric patients in the community and incarcerating people with "personality disorders" in case they become dangerous.  This concern for public safety is based on wholly inaccurate stereotypes about the mentally ill.  The fact is that violent acts by the mentally ill are extremely uncommon and we are far more likely to be dangers to ourselves.  Where is the legislation that will help prevent us killing ourselves by improving our social conditions and treatment options?’  Mad Pride

  Mental illness can devastate the lives of the person with the illness, and of their family and friends who cannot always cope, leaving the individual isolated, lonely and powerless. It becomes impossible to plan anything because the person cannot predict how they will feel.

Some people find it impossible to go outside. We have people at Cherry Tree who hadn’t been out of their homes for ten years. It is quite common to feel everyone is talking about you, criticising, accusing, to feel that you are being followed, hunted, persecuted. The hunters can be demons, customs officers, police, MI5. Voices can come out of the television, the radio, the sky, telling a person that they are not worthy, they need to harm themselves. Others believe they have been raped or poisoned.

The strategies people adopt to try to relieve their suffering are often part of the illness: for example ritualised cleaning and washing which then completely dominates their life. There has been much publicity recently about people who self-harm, who cut or burn themselves to divert attention from the pain in their head.

Many people are put on powerful medication to control the symptoms. These drugs themselves can have severe side effects. Some people are able to have various forms of behavioural therapies, or to learn coping strategies, or attend voice-hearing groups. Sometimes they have to re-learn basic life skills: washing, dressing appropriately, budgeting, cooking…

The lucky ones are able to find positive ways of distracting their thoughts by becoming involved in something important to them, which will divert their thoughts from their own problems. In some cases this can be where projects like Cherry Tree can help.

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‘Humankind cannot bear too much reality’ TS Eliot

‘Cherry Tree is one of the few places I feel safe. I don’t feel the crippling fear I feel in many places. I think that without Cherry Tree staff and friends, I would be locked up or dead’

‘If you have a bad day, someone will cheer you up. If you are on your own you get depressed. Most of us would be on our own otherwise’

‘If I hadn’t come here, I probably wouldn’t be here on the planet’
‘I was like a broken jigsaw puzzle when I came here, but I have slowly been put back together again’

‘Having nothing to do made me worse. I was completely different before I came here’

‘I was scared of going places, scared of the bus, scared of other people. Now I no longer have those fears’

‘Before coming to Cherry Tree I was off my head with drink and drugs’

‘I never smiled until I came here’

These quotes from our volunteers illustrate the overwhelming need for companionship, for meaningful occupation, and for a way to restore shattered dignity. These should be basic human rights.

We need to make clear that our type of project does not work for everyone, and that not all stories have happy endings. For some people the struggle is too much, the reality unbearable. We have lost several people who have taken their own lives, and it is important to remember them with love, and to celebrate the time they had. When it does work, it can literally be a lifesaver.

‘I have seen volunteers arrive at SWOP for their first day, nervous, timid, agitated, apprehensive, quiet and shattered, and with kindness, help and patience have seen them getting better and happier’

‘Silence and loneliness cannot last forever’ EM Forster




Cherry Tree Nursery
Off New Road Roundabout
Northbourne, Bournemouth
Dorset, BH10 7DA
Tel: 01202-593537
Registered Charity No 900325
Website marketing services provided as a donation from MfP Website Marketing, Bournemouth