My name is Julie Barnett. In 2018 my husband and I moved to Seaford and I began a brand new role working at the GP surgeries in Lewes and the surgery in Ringmer as the Dementia and Frailty Coordinator.

There are several aspects to the job including, the admin side, providing information and support for our patients living with dementia and their families, and finally a networking/social prescribing aspect. It’s this last component where Karen and her work with Greenhavens has had such a great effect upon my work.

My Practice Manager had suggested that I attend the local 3VA Network meetings and in March I was very lucky to be introduced to Karen and Greenhavens. Since that initial chat Karen has helped me to connect to so many different people and organisations. Working with these groups I can find existing and new opportunities for both my patients living with dementia and their families but also our whole patient base.

Marina Pepper manages the Landport Community Garden in Lewes. Karen introduced us and I went to see what it was all about. It is a beautiful , large cottage/ kitchen garden with beds, raised beds, sheds, pond, a large walk through greenhouse area, a campfire area , etc, etc. I was in awe. What a space to just be, planting, trimming, pulling up fruit, vegetables and some beautiful flowers, or just relaxing by the pond. And Marina offering this and her expertise as a volunteer with open arms to our patients.

A couple of weeks ago I took my Practice Manager and one of our partners at the surgery to see for themselves and they were blown away. I am now working on posters and flyers to be able to promote this Garden to all of our patients, the GP’s , nurses and HCA’s will signpost those they feel will benefit from some time spent in this amazing facility. To be honest that will probably be almost every patient we have, from those with mental health issues to those struggling with physical issues, our patients living with dementia and their families / carers , etc, etc.

From this initial meeting I have also been speaking to Emily Clarke who runs the Landport Community Café , a fantastic ‘pay as you feel ‘ social event on a Friday afternoon/evening which I will also be directing our patients to. Emily is also part of the Access group working on recommendations for the pathways and dropped kerbs of Landport Estate , there has recently been a consultation and I am supporting this, particularly as it will make such a difference again to our elderly and disabled patient base living in Landport and to enable them to visit the Garden and the Café.

During my initial discussion with Karen I mentioned that myself and a colleague were also trying to set up a Mens Shed project in Lewes but we were struggling to find premises and land to hold the regular sessions. This project is so important to the wellbeing of all our men assisting in all areas of social isolation, physical and mental health, dealing with grief, self worth, etc , etc.

Ever since then Karen has been on a mission to find someone who can help us. The contacts she has made on our behalf and the introductions have been invaluable. Starting off as the original question but leading to so much more including contacts at local government, the Environment Agency, the Community Rail Partnership, Wave Leisure,Rural Sussex Community Based Services and a Mens Shed project lead in Eastbourne

On a personal note through Karen I have joined Greenhavens myself and now been to several meetings, and on the back of that I have joined FOBS – Friends of Bishopstone Station , which is very close to where I live.

Without Karen’s and Greenhavens support so many opportunities would have been lost to our patients and so I would just like to say Thank you .

Julie Barnett
Dementia and Frailty Coordinator
Lewes and Ringmer GP surgeries