A charity that helps people with mental health problems learn how to tend and harvest natural woodland products while also regaining their self-belief and confidence has received a grant for a new project.

The New Caledonian Woodlands project in Edinburgh is one of dozens of good causes round the UK that is to have a share in a £250,000 bonanza from the Gannett Foundation, which is operated byNewsquest Media Group, owners of The Herald and Evening Times.

The charity, based at Inverleith Park next to the Royal Botanic Garden, is to create a sun trap garden for people with mental ill-health with a £1,600 slice of the total.

Loading article content

Andy Ross, project founder and co-ordinator who set up the scheme inspired by his childhood in Canada where sustainable forestry is a major industry, said he was delighted with the donation.

The charity teaches everything from forest management for supplying firewood and timber to orchard tending and jam-making, and sell their produce in shops and markets.

The team, including, pictured left to right, David Hopkins, marketing officer, Rachael Weedon, enterprise manager, and Inga Davidson, in-house occupational therapist, help those involved deal with personal problems and steer them back to work.

The trustees of the fund run by Newsquest again sifted through hundreds of applications to make their choice.

Grants were made to organisations across the country in areas served by any of Newsquest’s 165 local news brands.

Over the last ten years alone, the fund has given away more than £3 million to help community causes.

The chair of the trustees, Simon Westrop, Head of Legal for Newsquest, said: “Of course there are lots of demands on donors from charities serving the sick, disabled and the poor.

“As local news publishers, we think we can also make a difference on a less obvious and simpler level.

“So we are always just as pleased to make relatively small but creative gifts to encourage activities of all kinds that enrich the daily lives of the people who read our brands.”

Scottish recipients included: ConfiDance, Glasgow: Dance weekend for the blind and visually impaired £1,000; For All Bridgeton, Glasgow: Children’s play equipment £3,302; St Paul’s Youth Forum, Glasgow: A polytunnel, fruit trees and gardening tools to expand a horticultural project for young people from poor families £3,680; the Glasgow Play Resource Association: A second-hand paper and cardboard compressor to raise funds from re-cycling activities £2,500; the Saturday Café, Glasgow: Resurfacing an outdoor area for recreational activities in this community social centre £5,780.