Losing her job just a few weeks into the first national lockdown, this woman reached out to a community group in a bid to save her wellbeing during Covid-19.

Taylor Timinsky says she felt isolated after losing her job at the start of the pandemic, she tells us how joining Sustainable Merton helped her cope with lockdown.

Sustainable Merton is an environmental charity with the purpose of helping people make changes that positively impact the environment.

It has recently received more than £36,000 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Originally from the United States, Taylor joined the group back in June 2020 with the hopes to meet new people.

“I had actually started therapy a couple of months before the pandemic hit due to anxiety," she said.

"The isolation of lockdown, being away from my friends and family in the United States where there is an 6 to 8-hour time difference, I really felt my mental health deteriorated even further.

“I didn’t have a job anymore, I was stuck in the house and was really going stir crazy, and that’s when I found Sustainable Merton and I began volunteering with the Phipps Bridge Community Garden team.”

Your Local Guardian: Taylor Taylor

Based in Merton, the group has more than 170 Community Champions who volunteer at the two community growing spaces, Phipps Bridge Community Garden and Mitcham Community Orchard and Gardens.

Taylor is now a regular volunteer at the allotment and helps out every week.

“Peas were the first thing I planted, and it was great to see them emerge from their little seedlings and grow," she said.

"I suppose you can look at this as symbolic of my own mental health journey since joining Sustainable Merton.

"It has given me a real confidence boost to grow something from a seed.

"It’s magical seeing something that you’ve planted in the earth and looked after grow and produce food that I not only ate but also donated to the community fridge.”

Research conducted by The National Lottery Community Fund revealed that 83% of people in London say that they will change their behaviour as a result of the pandemic, and 47% agree that the pandemic will have a positive impact on the environment.

Organisations such as Sustainable Merton are encouraging people to get outdoors in line with Mental Health Awareness Week - with this year's theme being connecting with nature.

Your Local Guardian: Phipps Bridge Community GardenPhipps Bridge Community Garden

“The allotment gave me a dedicated time each week to disconnect and decompress a bit from everything that was going on with Covid-19, my job loss and isolation," commented Taylor. 

"It certainly helped me feel refreshed and better able to tackle challenges.

“Being able to actually talk to people in person, even if it was socially distanced, I just felt my mood elevate.

"I enjoyed getting to know people from the community, there are a lot of immigrants like me, and we were all able to share our stories and love of nature with one another.

“Despite all the setbacks of 2020, Sustainable Merton continues to remind me how much good can come from a group of people looking to better their community.”

To find out how to apply to a community fund visit here

To find out more about Sustainable Merton visit here