What Katy did ... thoughts from one of our volunteers

01/09/2017

Katy Perceval, Garden Support Volunteer at Thrive’s Battersea Garden Project in London, shares her experience of volunteering this summer…

Thrive is a good name for this charity, but not just for the obvious reason that its activities nurture the wellbeing and development of its clients and the plants they tend – as a recent recruit to its Battersea Garden Project this summer, I’ve found that its approach helps us volunteers to 'thrive’ too. 

People, generally, volunteer for a number of reasons, but usually they’re motivated by a desire to 'give something back’. However, for me as a newcomer – not only to Thrive but to volunteering itself – it’s also been about learning from the clients, the other volunteers and the experience as a whole, while feeling lucky (due to a career break) to have the time to try something new. 

As a Garden Support Volunteer at Thrive’s Battersea Park site in London, I spend one day a week supporting a group of client gardeners who have learning or physical disabilities – and I’m loving it! 

What makes it so good? Several things…

First up, the atmosphere: it’s such a welcoming and friendly group. I’ve quickly felt like I’ve become part of the Thrive team.

Secondly, the clients, other volunteers and horticultural therapists, and the chance to learn from their different perspectives on life. They’re teaching me a lot – including some very handy horticultural tips!

Third? The sense of doing something worthwhile: by enabling the clients to sow, grow, harvest and cook a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs, I’m nurturing my own people skills and appreciation of life. 

And finally, it has to be said, the location. The Herb Garden (where my group’s session is held each week) is a semi-private part of this busy Thames-side park, and the diversity of its plants, trees and buglife (plus, of course, the odd London fox or two) make it feel like a very special place to be. 

So if you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer at Thrive, why not find out more about the opportunities they have at one of their regular volunteer taster sessions – as I did back at Battersea Park back in May? 

The sessions are a great way to get an overview of Thrive’s work, a tour of the main gardens where its clients work and a chance to see them, the horticultural therapists and, of course, us volunteers in action, as well as to ask questions of the friendly permanent Thrive team. 

They can also help you fill in your application form and get the ball rolling on your DBS check, if you then decide you’d like to get involved.  

As well as volunteering in the gardens at Battersea Park, Berkshire and Birmingham, Thrive has opportunities in the office. The fundraising team are always on the lookout for help and support at external events like bucket collecting and village fetes. Get in touch today if you think volunteering is for you.