Ciaran Biggins, Director of MindFood shares his views on W3
Ciaran Biggins is the Co-Founder and Director of MindFood - a social enterprise that supports mental health recovery.
Prior to MindFood he spent the last 7 years in corporate fundraising for some of the UK's most well known charities including the NSPCC, Teenage Cancer Trust and Scope.
He's a Trustee of Mind in Ealing and Hounslow, was a former Trustee of Action Acton and attends St Paul's church in Ealing.
Ciaran is a finalist in the 'Business Champion' category in the Pride of Ealing awards taking place next month.
Below he explains why he loves this part of London.
When did you move to Acton and where do you live?
I moved to Acton in 2009 after moving to London a year earlier to live with my sister in Chiswick. Me and my best mate rented a flat in Acton not really knowing too much about it but 5 years later we've both bought our own place here and absolutely love it. I live near near Springfield Park.
What do you like best about the area?
I love Acton's cultural diversity and the sense of community here. There are also lots of great characters!
I'm not a big fan of the Morrisons so a bit of competition from another supermarket would definitely be welcome.
Do you have any favourite shops/restaurants? Any hidden gems?
Food wise I love North China, but on the cheaper end I really like Crystals by Acton Town station that does a great chicken shish kebab and also had a nice meal at Rivera opposite the Aeronaut who do a nice selection of Italian food with lovely personal service. My favourite pubs are the Rocket and the Aeronaut which I think is a great new addition to Acton and really pleased that it always seems to be pulling in a crowd.
What do you think could be improved about the area?
It's been great to see so much regeneration with the new leisure centre opening and also lots of great independent shops like Park and Bridge and Fields opening in Acton over the last couple of years. I still think that Acton High Street could do with a bit of a face lift and if they get the Oaks development right and eventually include re-developing the hight street entrance as part of it that could really help.
How + Why did you get involved in MindFood?
I've wanted to setup a social enterprise for a number of years but it was getting involved in an Acton community project that gave me the inspiration and passion to setup MindFood. I was volunteering to help on Oak Tree Anglican Fellowship’s Market Stall, which used to run in Acton on Saturdays offering free tea, coffee and cake to passers-by and offered to listen, talk and if appropriate pray for people who requested it. Every Saturday I was really moved by the amount of people that we would talk to that had mental health issues and who seemed so frustrated and boxed in by often not having anything productive to do or sometimes nobody in their life to encourage them that they were of worth.
So MindFood was born out seeing this need in the community and wanting to provide a solution where we could provide opportunities for people to realise that that they are of worth and that they can achieve and they can literally see the fruits of their own labour.
What help do you need from the community?
Last summer it was amazing to see the local community get behind MindFood every week at our market stall. We're hoping to be back at the Acton market from July so be great to see all the familiar faces again.
We've also launched a veg box crop share scheme which local people can sign up to get veg delivered to their door over the summer and autumn and there are a couple of places still left.
One of our big focus areas this year is around getting commissioned for the service that we offer to people with the aim of piloting 'farming on prescription.' This is where GP's or other mental health teams could prescribe people time on the MindFood farm to support their mental health recovery. If there are any people locally who work within the NHS/mental health teams or who have good links with the Ealing CCG it would be great if they could help us to champion this as it could be really ground breaking in the holistic care and treatment for peoples mental health needs.
We are always keen to partner up with local organisations and businesses to. For example Acton Gardening Association made us their chosen community partner and raised nearly £500 for us from their open day which was fantastic.
Finally there are always volunteering opportunities both on the farm and on the market stall so get in touch through our website if that might be of interest.
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7th April 2014