The Centre for Mental Health found an innovative way to attract Asian communities to London’s famous Chelsea Flower Show (CFS).
The national charity’s trustee Poppy Jaman and two other women wore sarees to “visibly make CFS a place that Asian women should go to”, considering that they often don’t see it as their space.
Jaman told Eastern Eye that the response was “amazing” and it served the purpose of making Asian women feel at home coming to the event.
“I think they thought we’re putting on some kind of show,” she said, adding that the saree “fits in with the vibes of Chelsea”.
The purpose of wearing the garment popular in the Indian subcontinent was to promote mental health in the south Asian community in London, by helping them connect with green spaces.
Research shows that almost 10 million people in the UK live in neighbourhoods deprived of nature. People of colour are twice as likely as white Britons to live in an area with minimal access to green spaces, while there are strong links too between access to nature and poverty.
The Centre for Mental Health’s Balance Garden seeks to address the inequalities by creating an inclusive and affordable space that helps tackle the causes of poor mental health. After the Chelsea event, the garden – an urban community garden designed by Wild City Studio will move to Tottenham in north London to create a new space for the community.
Jaman, who was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to people with mental health issues, said, “We know mental health is significantly improved by green spaces.”
She agreed the pandemic and the lockdowns showed how important nature and greenery were to people’s mental health.
“If you remember, one of the first things [during lockdown] that was allowed was everybody could go out for a walk and we encouraged everybody to go out into green space if they had access to it,” the British Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, who won the Asian Media Group’s GG2 Woman of the Year award in 2019, said.
According to her, green space “builds resilience, and it’s mental health enhancing”.
“Getting out in green spaces is about healing and taking time to pause and be present, which we know is scientifically proven to enhance your mental health.”