Bitten By The Gardening Bug?

Thrive London's local hub is looking for volunteers

Homegrown plants for sale at Thrive in Battersea ParkHomegrown plants for sale at Thrive in Battersea Park

If lockdown restrictions have left you with an interest in the positive powers of tending for shrubs and plants, the gardening-for-health charity Thrive is looking for local volunteers.

Thrive’s London hub is based in Battersea Park and throughout the pandemic has continued to help locals – either virtually or in-person, when restrictions have allowed - use gardening for health and well-being. The products of these endeavours are often found on sale in their outdoor garden centre.

The charity is looking specifically for Garden Support Volunteers to “assist the client gardeners and horticultural therapists”. You will need to commit to one day a week, from 9.45am-3.15pm, for at least six months. There is a full job description here but basically volunteers need to be patient and understanding, whilst respecting professional boundaries, and be prepared to work outdoors in all weathers.

In return you will receive a full introduction to the site, health and safety training, supervision and debriefing as well as suitable outdoor clothing.

At work in the Thrive garden
At work in the Thrive garden. Picture:

If you are interested in volunteering, simply contact the Thrive team here to get the ball rolling.

Thrive uses gardening: “To bring about changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.” The charity uses a specific approach called Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) which, through work with plants, trained therapists can help to improve a person’s physical and psychological health as well as their communication and thinking skills. The charity has more than forty years’ experience with this technique. In their own words: “STH uses the garden as a safe and secure place to develop someone’s ability to mix socially, make friends and learn practical skills that will help them to be more independent.”

A quiet place to sit in one of Thrive’s garden areas
A quiet place to sit in one of Thrive’s garden areas

It’s a sentiment backed by the medical profession. According to a recent report by the Royal College of Physicians: “There is increasing evidence that exposure to plants and green space, and particularly to gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health.”

Thrive is also offering Volunteer Taster Sessions, during which you get a tour of the garden and meet other volunteers.

Meanwhile the Plant Sales Kiosk is open to anyone who’s visiting the Park. Outdoor and some indoor plants, grown by Thrive’s client gardeners, are available to buy. Anyone can pop by during park opening hours – you’ll find the Thrive shop just south of the tennis courts.

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November 8, 2021