Lubrizol lends it support to community projects using nature and words to boost mental health

Mansfield artist Clare Taylor, who was one of two winners after pitching for funding at the Hard Heads and Hang Ups event, which was held in Nottingham last week and supported by East Midlands chemical company Lubrizol

Two East Midlands projects which aim to boost people’s mental health have been given a boost by Derbyshire firm Lubrizol after it donated money to help them get their ideas off the ground.

Lubrizol, based in Hazelwood, Belper, gave the money as part of its involvement in a bi-annual event called Hard Heads and Hang Ups, a Dragon’s Den-style event where project leaders have to convince a panel of judges and an audience to back their ideas.

Held at the THiNK in NG meeting space in Nottingham last week, the event was attended by around 40 people, who agreed to award £550 to help set up The Allotment Project, in Mansfield, and a further £250 to a book reading project in West Bridgford.

Both projects were chosen because of their organisers’ commitment to working with people in the community in order to improve their well-being and boost their mental health by bringing them together and getting them to take part in activities.

The Allotment Project, which will be launched in January, is the brainchild of Mansfield artist Clare Taylor, who wants to turn a gardeners’ kitchen at the town’s Eaking Road allotments into a meeting space and workshop.

Clare already runs the Bus and Bird Arts project but wanted to set up her new scheme because of her belief in the health benefits of gardening.

Not only will participants in the scheme, who will be drawn from across Mansfield and will take part in eight sessions, plant and grow produce, they will also be invited to create artwork based on their plants and horticulture – and cook and eat the fruits of their labour too.

From Left, artist Clare Taylor and author Rob Hann won financial backing for their mental health projects when they took part in the Hard Heads and Hang Ups, which was judged by Karen Clegg (Right), production services manager at East Midlands chemical firm Lubrizol, which also made a donation to the prize fund

The other scheme was pitched by Nottingham author Rob Hann, who wants to complete his latest children’s book, the Qangle Wangle’s Back – a sequel to an Edward Lear poem – and use it as the inspiration for a project involving reading and craft sessions designed to encourage schoolchildren and care home residents to work together after the success of a similar scheme featured on the Channel 4 programme Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

Lubrizol has been involved in the Hard Heads and Hang Ups project for the past three years and, as well as donating £250, its production services manager Karen Clegg acts as one of the judges.

She said: “There was a really strong line up of applicants this year, but Clare and Rob’s projects got the most votes because their ideas were the ones that really fired the audience’s imaginations.

“Mental health is a growing concern within society and it’s something that we at Lubrizol want to play a part in helping to alleviate as part of our community activity. We’re impressed with both Clare and Rob’s ideas and wish them all the best at getting their projects off the ground.”