New Cinderford Medical Centre announces community allotment ahead of national Loneliness Awareness Week

Cinderford’s new medical centre will champion the power of community by growing for health and wellbeing – with its own community allotment.

The green space will offer the chance for local people to come together to grow fruit, vegetables and plants in the grounds of the new primary care centre, which is being built as the new home for the town’s Dockham Surgery and Forest Health Care practices.

A local Community Interest Company, Down to Earth Gloucestershire, will run the allotment and will also provide landscaping and gardens maintenance services for the development once it opens. As part of this, the social enterprise organisation – which works across Gloucestershire providing opportunities for local residents to grow and harvest their own fruit –  has been awarded a community grant by the new centre’s landlord and developer, primary care property specialists Assura.

Amanda Godber, Project Co-ordinator said, “The allotment will help the community in many ways. From increased independence, confidence, and self-reliance to being part of a helpful and welcoming community which helps to combat isolation. It’ll give patients the opportunity to achieve better health, physical fitness and of course the highlight is being able to share organic locally grown food. We’re not sure what we’ll grow yet, but there will certainly be some salads, garlic, broad beans and spring onions in the mix. We look forward to working with the practice and increasing community spirit.”

A spokesperson on behalf of both practices said: “It’ll be fantastic for both sets of patients to be able to have a friendly, supportive environment both inside and outside of the new medical centre building. We’re all looking forward to working with Down to Earth Gloucestershire, seeing the impact that the allotment has on our patients and linking in the initiatives with our social prescribing teams.”

Work on the medical centre is progressing well, with contractors Speller Metcalfe now back on site following a brief hiatus.

Speller Metcalfe Managing Director, Andy Metcalfe, said: “We are delighted to have recommenced work on what is going to be an outstanding new medical centre for Cinderford. We are operating in line with the official government guidance which has been designed to keep everyone on site safe from COVID-19 risks and are adjusting well to the changes, which include operating with reduced numbers to ensure social distancing, staggered staff breaks and employment of a full-time site cleaner. We are now coming into the final stages of the project and can’t wait to see it complete later this year, especially with the fantastic addition of the new community allotment.”

The development, which is due to finish later this year, is set to become the UK’s first primary care centre to be accredited for its dementia-friendly design and has been supported by specialist academic advisors and Forest of Dean District Dementia Action Alliance.  The cutting-edge design also incorporates a number of sustainable, green technologies meaning it will be rated BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ for Energy and ‘Very Good’ overall.

Jon Webb, Senior Development Manager at Assura, said: “At a time when we’ve all felt such a sense of the value of the outdoors for our wellbeing, it’s really pleasing that we have been able to change the plans around to incorporate a community allotment. These spaces link in with wider NHS social prescribing initiatives and give us social support, gentle exercise, chances to connect with others and to be around nature – which are all great for our mental health. We’re delighted to be supporting Down to Earth Gloucestershire on this and to seeing how the garden will help everyone using the building.”