We're looking for green fingered volunteers in Birmingham #nationalvolunteersweek (June 1-7)

24/05/2018

The team at Thrive Birmingham, based in Kings Heath Park are actively looking for volunteers at a time when it has been proven that volunteering outdoors is good for your health!

During National Volunteers Week - June 1-7, we are hoping to recruit some more people to help in the fabulous gardens in the park and work alongside our client gardeners and horticultural therapists.

You could be volunteering here!
Ask any gardener why they love what they do and most will say they enjoy being outside in the fresh air, getting exercise and tending to their plants – a kind of 'natural high’.

But there is science behind this feeling as this enjoyable, yet rewarding physical activity, releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. 

Last year the University of Essex and The Wildlife Trusts published a report (Volunteering: A Natural Health Service) on how volunteering in a nature-rich environment impacted positively on people’s health and wellbeing.

It’s is also one of the key benefits of gardening that we cite as a factor in helping people who come to our Birmingham gardens.

So people who volunteer with Thrive will not only benefit from the nature boost, they will be helping people who are living with disabilities or ill health, or those who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable. 

Garden volunteers work alongside the client gardeners, other volunteers and a horticultural therapist doing tasks such as watering, digging, hoeing, mowing, pruning, watching out for the Health and Safety of those you are working with and helping clear and put away tools. 

New volunteers don’t have to be garden experts, but some understanding of basic gardening skills would be welcome, as would any experience of working with people who have a disability.

Amanda Fields, Manager of Thrive in Birmingham, said: "At Thrive we use horticulture as a therapeutic tool to help people. 

"Volunteers work alongside a trained horticultural therapist who plan every session with the individual client gardener we are helping that day. 

"For example, for someone who has had a stroke their goal may be to improve their speech by being with others in a relaxed environment; for someone with a learning disability it could lead to their first ever qualification as we are a City and Guilds approved training centre. 

"Therapeutic horticulture can improve peoples’ mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement; it can lead to better physical health and offers the chance to learn new skills, which improves self-esteem and gives people the confidence to maybe volunteer somewhere or even get a job. 

"And we see the social benefits that gardening brings as it gives people the chance to connect with others, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

"The social side is also true for volunteers too, connecting with others, sharing experiences and making new friends along the way."

Malcolm in the garden at Kings Heath
Malcolm has been helping at our Birmingham site at Kings Heath for more than two years. 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 2017, 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 at the website. 

He saw that he might be able to volunteer at the well-known former-TV gardens at Kings Heath Park which he remembers from his childhood living close to the 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 said: "I get lots of enjoyment from volunteering and believe that its great therapy for both the clients 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."

If you are interested in volunteering with our friendly team in Birmingham, please give us a ring during normal office hours on 0121 293 4531 or email birmingham@thrive.org.uk