Hey everyone reading this, my name is Harry White and I am a Volunteer with Mind Open Spaces. I’ve been a Volunteer for around 2 years, going on 3 now, if my memory serves me right. I tend to the allotment as an Open Spaces Volunteer, which is wonderful for me. My duties are primarily tending to the allotment and garden which can be de-weeding, planting fruit or vegetables or flowers, general things you do at an allotment, as well as checking in with the office to let them know we have arrived. Whilst at the allotment, clients come down to do the same, either as part of their CBT or a course they decide to take themselves, as part of a mental health therapy session. In fact that’s how I started out! I was a client with Mind and I wanted to go to the allotment as at the time I had an interest in growing my own fruit and veg, so what better place to help me and learn at the same time. After about 2 years of attending the allotment as a client, they asked me if I wanted to become a volunteer, to which I said yes. I have become great friends with the Staff member running the Open Spaces and a fellow Volunteer who joined us during my 2nd year, we have a great time and laugh as well. I will also say I have become friends with some of the clients that attend as well, it’s nice seeing them and having a nice chat while working.
Anyway, I’ve gotten off topic.
When the Clients are at the allotment, my duties become more focused on the clients ensuring their safety and providing tasks that each person are able and comfortable with doing. Sometimes this requires me to show them how to carry out the tasks, as in how to dig properly or where things need to go. Sometimes I would show how to sow seeds or move plants and explain how and why we do certain things that way. They are classed as workshops since this can involve teaching more than one person, and once we have taught the how and why, we encourage the clients to crack on and have a go themselves. Of course, whenever we have new clients or people interested in the allotment, we show them around our plots explain the tasks we carry out. We provide a basic rundown of all the areas, including health and safety, drinking area, toilet facility and answer any questions people may have.
I do have a “boss” to report to (I say “boss” but she is more like a friend), if I have any concerns or need anything for the allotment, since she is the Volunteer Leader and oversees the Open Spaces Project. She is pretty much our liaison to the office, providing us with any new information or changes happening. Since I was a client as well, she has kept in touch during the Lockdown of COVID-19 which has been really helpful to me as well, so big bonus for me.
To wrap things up, as it were, I’ve really enjoyed being a volunteer. It gave me great confidence that they asked me to become a volunteer with them, and I have absolutely enjoyed my time down at the Open Spaces. The Allotment is pretty much the highlight of my weeks.