Where there’s rain there’s gain at The WELLIES Project

The WELLIES Project is a Staffordshire-based charity, workshop and sanctuary for people recovering from mental ill health. Attendees of the project include adults of all ages and backgrounds who are all recovering from a range of battles including social anxiety, addiction, domestic violence and severe depression.

Nick Platt is one of the charity’s founders and a man who has experienced his own battles with mental ill health. While working in the agricultural industry at the very beginning of the 21st century Nick and thousands of other farmers were forced to combat with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. During this period Nick and thousands of other farmers experienced severe isolation, the decimation of livestock and their wellbeing. The trauma involved triggered depression in a large proportion of farmers and was Nick’s catalyst to change his career from farming animals to nurturing people.

Four years ago Nick and co-founder Julie purchased a dilapidated chapel as a hub for The WELLIES Project. The charity encourages learning skills such as horticulture, woodwork and upcycling and the attendees work in restoring the old building and gardens has become a huge part of the process of their healing too. As part of the restoration project, the charity applied for Severn Trent’s new community fund and received a grant towards the chapel gardens including a rainwater harvesting system.

We received an enquiry from The WELLIES Project requesting a quote for a rainwater tank with a capacity of around 3,000 litres. After discovering the tank was for a local charity helping people from our neighbourhood (including Uttoxeter where Tuffa are and many of our team are based) we offered to manufacture a 3,500 litre tank at a significantly reduced cost and went to visit Nick at the old chapel to see exactly how our water tank will help the charity.

Tuffa’s 3,500 litre water tank is due to be installed next to the downpipe which is adjacent to what would have been the main entrance to the chapel. The high-pitch of the chapel roof offers a collection area of around 400m2 which is capable of harvesting a maximum average of 1,000 litres of water per day. However, with 8 roof slopes and numerous downpipes located on two different levels, new guttering will need to be installed to channel into the tank to benefit from the entire roof space. While we can supply high-quality water filtration and pumping systems, The WELLIES project will making the most of free resources and have sourced a low-power water pump from Freecycle.com and can make basic filtration for leaves and larger contaminants out of wire mesh.

When harvested, the main use of the water will be to supply a huge variety of vegetables, fruit plants and flowers. An irrigation system has been installed at the 7 raised flower beds with a timer to water the tanks at the most efficient time very early in the morning so the maximum quantity of water drains into the roots with little evaporation. The rainwater tank’s 2″ bottom outlet will also be connected to an adapter and used with the hose to water the abundance of plants. This will further reduce the charity’s reliance on mains water, saving money and reducing the chapel’s usage of mains water taps which already suffers from low pressure being located on a rural hill.

The process of growing vegetables, fruit and plants is extremely important at The WELLIES project. Many gardeners know of the therapeutic qualities of growing plants, and one of the charity’s core principles is that the simple effects of being in nature, gentle exercise, getting fresh air and meeting new people have an extremely positive impact on our health and wellbeing.  What’s more, the fruit and vegetables being grown have been specifically requested by the attendees with the role of cooking for the group. As Nick explained, “fresh food is very vital for the attendee’s recovery. Lots of people we work with rely on takeaways and microwave meals and have nutritionally poor diets. Our attendees can learn to grow food and cook here, and in some cases the food served will be the only decent meal they have eaten for a long time. The entire activity from watering the plants, cooking the food or even being cooked for, and eating a healthy meal all contributes to mental and physical health and wellbeing of our participants.”

The rainwater stored and distributed from our tank will also feed the flowers, which, like most things at The WELLIES Project, have multiple uses. For example, planting flowers adds tranquillity and life to the gardens for all to enjoy, the plants are then used by those who partake in Floristry Thursdays, and when the petals fall, they will be dried and sold as potpourri to bring a little extra income into the charity. Charlie Goring, Tuffa’s Marketing Manager, elaborates on the charity’s ethos from her experience when visiting the charity’s hub.

“It’s clear that everything grown by, salvaged and donated to The WELLIES Project is recycled and repurposed to benefit the maximum number of people, which is what makes this charity so special. We know that our water tank will be used and reused in the most efficient way possible – I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 or 30 years when the tank is no longer capable of storing water but has been converted into a chicken hutch hotel or something more inventive. We will continue to support this local charity even if it’s just donating our old pallets which we know the woodwork team can turn into all sorts of useful products like pens which can be sold to help more participants down the line.”

After visiting The WELLIES Project’s hub we cannot think of a better home and usage for our rainwater harvesting tank, and are particularly proud to be involved with a charity helping the people of our streets. If you would like to find out more or get involved you can check out The WELLIES Project website or contact Nick and his team for a chat.

If you need water storage for your own project then please view our range of water tanks available in capacities from 1,350 to 20,000 litres, or use the enquiry form below.

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