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Julia NHS
Kindness is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week, which we want to celebrate by featuring some people who are showing it during the current crisis.

Mark Rowland, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said that Mental Health Awareness Week this year "could be the most important week we’ve ever run. We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health."

We caught up with Thrive horticultural therapist Julia Smith (pictured above) who has returned to work for the NHS while on furlough.

What role are you doing now?

I am a staff nurse in the CAPD unit (A type of dialysis that patients do themselves at home.) We see patients to train them, monitor how the treatment is going and troubleshoot if they have any problems.

What was the motivation for re-joining the NHS?

After Thrive closed its horticultural therapy programmes, I felt very guilty about being able to be at home enjoying my garden in the warm sunshine when I knew nurses were putting their lives at risk. The Renal Lead, who I worked with for 20 years, contacted me and asked for my help as two of her team needed to shield themselves. Then the government announced nurses could get temporary registration as part of the Covid response and I realised that I could help.

How have you found this new work? Has it been straightforward to slot back in?

It took about five weeks to get all of the admin side of things sorted. I am surprised by the things I have remembered and the things that have not changed. I was assessed how to carry out dialysis and could remember it all on the first practice!

NHS staff have been getting clapped by the nation each Thursday night - how is this received by staff you work with?

I asked this on our Whatsapp group and got - ‘uplifting’, ‘proud’, ‘valued’, ‘appreciated’, ‘supported’, ‘respected’, ‘cherished’, and ‘an amazing level of support for the NHS’.

What's the biggest thing you are missing about working at Thrive?

Everything! I miss the clients and seeing things through them. The volunteers and how generous they are with their time and support, and being with the rest of our therapy team. One of the biggest privileges of working at Thrive is being able to see the garden grow day by day, and not having seen it for over 8 weeks has been really hard, I try and picture how it might look now.

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

Amelia Earhart

One of our garden volunteers Bryony shares her experience of volunteering.

I would love to share an account of a kind gesture that has already taken place. I am a member of another charity, the Burghfield WI and some of our lovely members are self isolating due to the Covid-19 virus.

We had planned to celebrate VE Day by gathering for a tea party, but of course the arrangements had to be cancelled. Undeterred a couple of our members came up with the kind and thoughtful idea of discovering who had already celebrated their 80th birthday and then delivering a tea to them!

Once the detective work was complete presentation boxes were obtained and a delicious selection of cakes and scones, including individual pots of jam were delivered to each member. The recipients were delighted.

Lynn (pictured below) was one of the lucky recipients. She wrote a delightful poem to show her gratitude for the delivered tea.

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Lynn's Poem

A knock on the door, I wondered why?

It’s the President of Burghfield WI.

Afternoon tea in a beautiful box,

And there was I in tee shirt and sock!

I opened the box with its Union Jack,

And well, the contents just took me aback.

Homemade cakes & homemade jam,

So I thought to myself, well I’ve got a plan.

You’ve gone to such trouble, then so should I,

My backs killing me but I really must try.

I couldn’t find the napkins or the lace table draper,

So I had to resort to one made of paper!

But out came the vintage triple as you can see,

From our 100 year party and the story of afternoon tea.

Then came the next lot, oh what should I take?

Victoria sponge or lemon drizzle cake?

There’s far to much but hey, no sorrow,

I WILL find the table cloth and do it all again tomorrow!!

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Thrive painted buckets Charlie Garner 2019