Valuing our volunteers

05/06/2017

Volunteers’ Week runs from 1-7th of June each year. 

It’s a celebration of the contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. 

Thrive relies on voluntary help at each of our centres and in our head office.  We couldn’t function without their generous help. We have volunteers that help support our horticultural therapists when running groups, but that also help us in other capacities too.  

To help us celebrate the contribution our volunteers make, we talked to three of them about their experience of being at Thrive.

Emma helps at Thrive Battersea, and has been with us for a year.  She started off volunteering in our plant sales kiosk as this allowed flexibility at a time when she was unable to commit to a definite schedule. Since then she has been able to move onto a more supportive role helping clients.

Emma had known about Thrive for some time, walking or cycling past our site in Battersea Park regularly, or even daily, on the school run. Thrive appealed to Emma as she enjoys gardening and being active, while also helping.  Her position has given her the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people which she enjoys.

She says that she likes volunteering at Battersea as it’s a vibrant place and there is lots to learn, with lots of new initiatives and new ideas.  Her advice to any prospective volunteers is to be clear about why you want to volunteer and what you hope to achieve.

Malcolm has been helping at our Birmingham site at Kings Heath for 15 months. He works with clients and other volunteers in the gardens, and also helps out with running our corporate days.  

He has enjoyed projects like attending and constructing the Thrive garden at BBC Gardeners' World Live in 2016, and is helping again this year.  He says the time spent engaging with clients is rewarding, and that he really enjoys the experience as part of his weekly schedule.

Malcolm had retired from full-time employment and wanted to be involved with gardening on a voluntary basis.  He heard about Thrive through his wife’s friend who was volunteering there, and looked atour website.  He saw that he might be able to volunteer at the well-known ex-TV gardens at Kings Heath Park.
 
After applying, Malcolm had to have a DBS check and commit to volunteering one day a week for a minimum of three months.  He says that the paperwork and bureaucracy was a bit frustrating for him, but recognises that it was necessary.   The payoff has been the opportunity of "…working in gardens with like-minded volunteers from a wide range of society, with the option to work with clients."  

He describes his experience as "…really rewarding, working with other teams on corporate days and doing mini projects."

Sue has been volunteering in our national office near Reading for five years. She is responsible for the publications that we stock and sell through our website, and to visiting students. This involves administering the system, sending out orders, copying CD’s and literature and answering queries.

As a keen gardener herself, Sue was impressed by the work of Thrive staff and the achievements of the clients during a visit to one of our Open Days.  

Having retired, Sue had spare time that she wanted to put to good use.  She decided she would like to help us, and that her secretarial skills meant that she could be most useful in our head office.

Sue’s advice to any prospective volunteers is: "Don’t think about it for too long – take the plunge.  I am sure you won’t regret it.  You will take away as much as you give."