The Northgate Project, supported by the Kent charity TakeOff, was a self-help group for people with mental health needs or suffering from social isolation. It was based on purposeful activity such as gardening, cooking and IT.

Person stands behind stall showing community garden project

The Northgate Project was an activity-based self-help group for people in the Northgate ward in Canterbury. Many members were (or had been) feeling suicidal and some were living with conditions such as bipolar disorder. In these circumstances, being surrounded by economic affluence, as in Canterbury, can emphasise hardship. Many lived alone in the neighbouring estate, sometimes going weeks or months without a friendly exchange with another person.

This two-year project was repeat funded by People’s Health Trust, and added a weekly allotment group to existing weekly cooking and IT activities. These activities allowed people to share their interests and skills with one another, facilitating sessions and designing and delivering the activities themselves.

Through sharing purposeful activity, people began to develop their social connections, enjoying the company of others. Friendships developed between different groups of people, for example, young and older people. Many of the group began to meet each other outside of the project, growing their support networks.

This growth in social connectedness began to create more of a community environment in the Northgate area. These new community links led to local people having more

Most of us have had no voice at some point in our lives, especially if you have been a sectioned patient. When you have had no voice you realise the value of having a voice.

Project staff

Funded by People's Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery South East