Brian Hughes actively helps Thrive horticultural therapists in engaging difficult to reach teenagers with behavioural issues who attend gardening sessions with us at our Beech Hill gardens in Berkshire.
On retiring from the Environment Agency four years ago at aged 60, Brian felt he wanted to volunteer in his local community and for this to be outdoors. As a keen gardener himself, (Brian always found It therapeutic) he was delighted when he discovered Thrive.
"It ticked all the boxes for me," he said. "I love being outdoors in all weathers, but particularly the summer of course! And I enjoy seeing things grow."
Brian’s calm, quiet, yet fun personality has made a huge difference to many of the young people who come to Thrive. And while Thrive works with people of all ages with different disabilities, or ill health, Brian has thrived working with young people with behavioural issues. He is very patient, extremely generous with his gardening and growing knowledge and has earned a level of respect from these youngsters, and the staff at Thrive.
"I’ve really enjoyed working with teenagers and watching them learn new things all the time. Then when you see them working together and helping each other, with not much prompting, it’s wonderful.
"They are learning skills in a relaxed environment that will help them in later life. It gives you hope that when these young people leave school that they will survive in the outside world.
"The garden is a peg that you can hang a lot of other skills on…like things that need to be done. Young people use their initiative and take instructions. A lot of them are quite bright kids but might not have had certain opportunities before.
"When I first started working with the young people I found that I enjoyed their energy; it’s something you might not get with some of the older clients.
"Sometimes their express their energy in undesirable ways and we help them express their energy in better ways and show them productive avenues rather than let them become destructive."
If you'd like to volunteer at Thrive, please contact Ann McLaughlin
on 0118 988 5688.