Shan 1
The last few months have been somewhat different for all of us, a period of uncertainty and unexpected challenges.

Many of us have experienced a strain on our mental wellbeing during the recent lockdown, particularly Thrive client gardeners who have been and still are unable to attend any of their valuable sessions at Thrive, for the foreseeable future.

I'm a trustee of Thrive, a client gardener and a volunteer at the gardens in Birmingham. I became involved in 2006, two years after being diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

My reason for attending Thrive is probably best explained by my most recent visit to see my neurologist in March. I told her that I now attend Thrive Birmingham as a client once a week for a half-day session and that there was the possibility of attending another session. She suggested that I ‘double up... the more the better’. She was pleased to hear that despite my growing disability I had still maintained a passion for gardening.

She has always noted the benefits I get from going to Thrive. How it has given me a sense of purpose and structure in my life. Above all it gets me up and moving. It gets me out of the house. It is safe but challenging, exhausting as well as restful. A day out to Thrive helps with my sleep patterns and sets me up for the rest of the week.

Help us support Shan and other client gardeners


Finding Thrive’s 'Carry on Gardening’ website for tips to improve getting out and making the most of my garden, using adaptive tools and relearning to garden in a wheelchair was life changing. My confidence grew exponentially. I soon found myself joining Thrive Birmingham in King's Heath as a volunteer.

Currently still shielding, time has flown by but it’s getting tougher. At home I have spent time appreciating nature in my garden. Each morning I get up rain or shine and spend a couple of hours ‘working and being’ in the garden. I am thankful for this resource and that my time at Thrive has made me appreciative of all the nature that surrounds me.

Shan Akhtar Veg boxes Brum
Shan at the Birmingham centre before the pandemic

I have been helped in recent weeks by joining Thrive's Gardening Club which gives me regular tips and encouragement to keep on gardening. I have kept up with my gardening knowledge and I am doing the Thrive ‘cultivating wellbeing’ course and got a badge for completing ‘what is social and therapeutic horticulture’ on ThriveLearn. I have kept in contact with volunteers at Kings Heath; we talk about the garden and the watering rota is a hot topic. This does make me green with envy as I cannot volunteer at the moment. But I am happy in the thought that I shall have a lovely garden to go back to.

With the future for Thrive still so uncertain, your support today is vital to helping myself and my fellow client gardeners be able to return to our beloved gardens as soon as it’s safe to do so. I am itching to get back, really really I am. Any donation you can make will help ensure that the gardens are ready to be worked in and that new ways of working are implemented to keep clients, volunteers and staff as safe as possible.

In the meantime, I will stick to the plan made with the horticultural therapist. I have managed to increase stamina and range of movement in my hand and arm. Lots of potting, weeding, planting on. I cannot wait to pick up where we left off. That Ivy best watch out...

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