The journey so far
In the winter of 1999 I became a volunteer at CHERRY TREE NURSERY...it's a registered charity providing a safe working environment for adults living with a mental illness.
In the beginning I'd be sat outside the office, crying.
I didn't have a clue about plants, and I would watch the other volunteers laughing and smiling and doing their work and see how content they looked.
I was befriended by a lovely lady, Lorraine, who had been a volunteer from the beginning of cherry trees. There were old porta cabins for the tea room and office. There were buckets to catch the rain, as it dripped through the roof, and everyone would try to get seats next to the portable gas heater at lunchtime as the heat disappeared out of the roof. Yet no matter how cold or damp it was, inside or out, there was a warmth within the people of the nursery.
After a few months, I was soon working on the nursery, learning how to take cuttings, potting up, being given tasks and feeling a great satisfaction from what I had achieved, I felt like I actually had a purpose in my day.
By the end of my 1st year I was able to see there was light, like a seed popping out of the soil, no longer buried in deep darkness of depression, 2-5 years I developed some roots and started to step out of my comfort zone, and 5 to 8 years it felt safe enough to let myself grow, being the best I can be, In 2008, I became a part time supported member of staff at Cherry tree and have been able to give time to the volunteers who needed it.
Time, love and nurture are the main ingredients that produce happy plants, and its also the same ingredients for volunteers too.