January, for many people it’s the long dark teatime of the soul when motivation and optimism can be in short supply. So much so that in 2006 a British travel company Sky Travel claimed to have discovered that the most depressing day of the year fell on the third Monday of January and gave it the name Blue Monday. This year Blue Monday falls on January 17th and there is no doubt that this mid-winter Monday may seem like a bit of a drag for many of us with memories of Christmas festivities fading and New Year’s resolutions which typically only last for two weeks now in tatters.
But there is one resolution we can all still work towards this year and that is to be more open about our mental health. The word unprecedented has been bounded around a lot recently but it really is the only way to describe the past two years and we have all been affected by the mental strains of the pandemic. Loss, isolation, fear and anxiety are just some of the ways that COVID has impacted our mental wellbeing with many routes to support also diminished or removed during this period.
A huge rise in loneliness is one of the cruellest effects of the pandemic and one of the hardest to alleviate, the very rules put in place to keep us safe also creating and compounding the social isolation of so many.
Today The Jo Cox Foundation launch the Great Winter Get Together, their aimed is to encourage us to open up about loneliness, explore how it can impact on all of our lives and discover the small but powerful steps we can take to help each other to overcome it.
Winter is a difficult time to make connections, our natural instinct is to hunker down and wait for spring but with restrictions now eased and outdoor activities encouraged for those willing to brave the cold we have some great goings-on in the gardens which are free and open to all and provide an opportunity to meet new people and try new things.
Every Wednesday the Friends of South Cliff Gardens gather for two hours of gardening, this is a nice way to get in some gentle exercise and fresh air in a unique location, absolutely no experience necessary and tools can be provided, all we ask is that you dress for the weather and activity including sturdy footwear and bring your own gardening gloves. The group meets by the entrance to the Rose Garden (on the Esplanade close to the boat flower bed) for 10am.
January is also the month of The Big Garden Birdwatch and we will be running a drop in bird watching session between 10am and 12pm on Friday 28th in the Italian Gardens. The RSPCA ask us to spend an hour recording our feathered friends so that they can monitor the wellbeing of the nation’s birds. We will be on hand with spotting sheets but if you can’t make it to the gardens then you can still take part:
If you’re on Facebook you may have seen posts from the fantastic new group tackling littering locally Keep Scarborough Tidy, they will be holding an organised litter pick in the gardens and surrounding area on February 1st. For full details and to register your interest in taking part please contact the page directly (registration essential):
We have lots more planned for this year so keep an eye on out social media and we look forward to welcoming you to the gardens.
Gemma Alexander – South Cliff Gardens Community Engagement Officer.