I began my volunteering journey through a career change. After 24 years teaching Drama in secondary schools I decided to retrain as a Social Therapeutic Horticultural Practitioner and approached Darwin Nurseries and Farm Shop to volunteer there 1 day a week and more in holiday time. I have always worked with young people with special educational needs and mental health challenges and found my skill set mapped here very well. I love being able to empower others to achieve their potential, I love gardening and seeing the joy of creating something out of a seed and the hope that this generates. For me, Darwin has become a way to give back to my community and a second family.
As part of cpft, Darwin has also supported the Head to Toe charity, and we put a team of coworkers together to participate in the football tournament which I really enjoyed too.
Imagine our heartbreak when lockdowns meant that coworkers- many of whom fell into the shielding categories and were vulnerable, or lived in shared residential homes- could no longer attend sessions at the Nurseries and Farm Shop, and my role as volunteer was also curtailed. So I found other ways to help: I put together and delivered care packages for NHS staff with the Head to Toe charity over the summer of 2020. I'm keeping everything crossed that Darwin Nurseries and Farm Shop along with the coworkers will return to full bloom later in 2021 so we can begin again to Encourage Growth! Emma