At the herbal clinic we have continued to consult with our patients remotely, either on phone or video calling and we had more negotiations with our building managers about hopefully getting in to see our patients face to face. As the year went on, we gathered more referrals to our service as other services also operating remotely became aware that we were still taking new patients so we are now seeing our patient numbers increasing gradually. We have seen the impact the lockdown has had and continues to have on the mental and physical heath of those in our community and our clinic feels more important than ever.

The summer of 2020 saw some easing of the earlier lockdown meaning we could pick up more face-to-face interactions in the community. The Herbal Response Project directly responding to COVID continues to distribute free remedies weekly and these have been incredibly popular. The funding for this project has also been used to offer free pop-up clinics and advise stalls in Wester Hailes and Granton. We identified a need for folk to access herbal advise and tailor-made medicines if required to manage their health needs while not being able to have a face-to-face appointment as usual in the Wester Hailes and Granton herbal clinics. This way we have been able to reach and communicate with a wider section of the community. We collaborated with another local herbal Community Interest Company; Herbal Scotland to do the clinics who share similar values about making herbal medicine accessible for all. Herbal Scotland provide workshops on foraging and making remedies as well as providing herbal first aid cover at Scottish music festivals and events.

In the dispensary we have had some changes over the past few months and have taken on and started training our new dispenser Jillian. Jillian is a local Wester Hailes resident who has a keen interest in herbal medicine. She has been supporting the herbal clinic as a patient for years and has also undertaken the Wild things course run by Grass Roots Remedies as well as numerous workshops and herb walks along the way. Jillian seemed the obvious choice for us when looking for a new dispenser as she is so keen and interested in herbs. It feels important and satisfying to be able to offer this post to a local resident of the area we serve. It ties in with our values of educating and sharing knowledge of herbal medicine, improving its accessibility to empower individuals to have some control over their health. It also provides Jillian with new skills and enhanced confidence. There is so much to learn in the dispensary and Jillian is rising to the challenge and doing a wonderful job.

In the latter part of the year, we have welcomed back Ally, our clinic founder from her Maternity leave. We are so delighted to have Ally back and have missed her greatly during this difficult year. Ally is taking on the administrative role of managing the clinic and dispensary while the clinic isn’t as busy with patients as it has been previously, but she hopes to come back to practicing with us eventually. She is also taking on other roles within Grassroots Remedies such as designing and distributing products.

Hopefully over this coming year we will eventually get back in to our clinic building and start to see our patients face to face again as well as carry on our community workshops and disributions of remedies in the community as these have been really popular over the past 6 months.