RESIDENTS are being encouraged to get busy in their gardens to improve their mental health.

A new initiative has been launched across the district to reinforce the message to stay at home where possible while also having a go at growing small vegetables.

It will be run by Braintree Council and Abberton Rural Training and will see 100 residents receive a free planting starter kit to get them started

Bosses say the kits are available to key workers, families and individuals struggling financial or people who are having to self-isolate to protect themselves from coronavirus.

The council's health boss Peter Tattersley said: "I’m really pleased to be launching this initiative in the Braintree district. Gardening is good for our physical health and mental wellbeing and encourages healthy lifestyle behaviours, such as healthy cooking.

"This is something everyone can get involved with, whether this be in their garden, balcony or windowsill."

The Witham Community Hub is also taking part in the scheme and says it will be providing free starter packs specifically for residents in Witham, Silver end, Rivenhall, Hatfield Peverel, Cressing and Kelvedon.