VOLUNTEERS and organisers of a community engagement project at an historic Borders attraction have reflected on the success of the programme.

THRIVE, at Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, was a project which supported adults in the Eildon area with their mental health and wellbeing.

Now the project has come to an end, participants, Abbotsford staff, volunteers, board members and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) came together to celebrate the project's success with an afternoon tea.

Mary Kenny, project leader and heritage engagement officer at the Abbotsford Trust, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with all the participants both on the pilot project and the current stage of the THRIVE project - to have the privilege of seeing and hearing first hand that the individuals involved have felt a positive impact.

"We all deserve to have good mental health, and I am proud to work in an organisation which supports taking positive and practical action with that aim in mind.

"I hope we can continue this valuable work in the future.”

THRIVE was first launched at Abbotsford in 2021 to support people affected by the pandemic.

The project, which has now supported 21 people  was developed alongside SBC's local area co-ordination (LAC) team which supports adults with mental health struggles which impact their quality of life.

Working in small groups, participants took part in a range of practical activities over the course of seven weeks.

Those taking part in THRIVE sessions got hands-on experience in a range of activities in the gardens, working in the visitor centre and 'behind the scenes' activities like marketing.

One particpant said: “This has been a really inspirational and insightful experience; Abbotsford has had so much to offer for me on this course.”

Another said: “It was above and beyond what I could have imagined.”

A third added: “A comfortable environment, without feeling in any way that I was getting stigmatised.”

Councillor Tom Weatherston, executive member for social work and community enhancement said: “The partnership between the Abbotsford Trust and our Local Area Co-ordination Team on the Thrive project has delivered an exciting opportunity to those who have or have had mental health issues which have impacted on their lives and left them feeling socially isolated.

“Overall, the feedback received from participants has been very positive with Thrive offering them experiences which many felt they would never have had otherwise.

"As well as gaining insight into what is involved in being a volunteer at Abbotsford, they have developed a range of other transferable skills. Some are continuing to volunteer at Abbotsford while others have gained the confidence to look at taking on volunteering roles in the wider local community.

"Of particular benefit have been the friendships and connections that have developed through a shared interest in the project, an outcome that has been invaluable in helping participants to feel less isolated.”

The Abbotsford Trust is currently fundraising to continue its valuable work with the THRIVE project and other local community engagement projects.

Visit: scottsabbotsford.com for more information on the project and to donate.