Dave is a volunteer at Lindengate, helping with the charity’s Rest and Reflect programme for NHS and key workers as well as the bereaved.
He has been really bowled over by the experience and how good it is, calling the Lindengate garden a ‘hidden gem’.
What is Lindengate?
Lindengate is a Buckinghamshire-based charity that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs in their continuing recovery. It has recently introduced a ‘Rest and Reflect’ programme to enable NHS workers, keyworkers and anyone dealing with bereavement or struggling with the effects of COVID-19 to benefit from the healing qualities of the Lindengate garden.
How did you come to be a volunteer there?
I signed up on the Buckinghamshire Council website to be a volunteer as I wanted to give something back – particularly to help the NHS if possible. It was the Volunteer Matching Service which suggested the role as an assistant for Lindengate’s Rest and Reflect programme. I already knew a little bit about Lindengate as in my ‘normal’ life I am the food and beverage manager at a local golf club and the Lady Captain there had chosen Lindengate as her Charity of the Year.
I liked the idea that it was going to be outdoors and that it would be helping NHS staff so thought I would give it a go.
What was it like when you got there?
I was a bit nervous before I started but I needn’t have been. The people there were so welcoming and there’s a lovely atmosphere. It is a very special place to go.
How often do you volunteer and is it weather-dependent?
I am at Lindengate two afternoons a week, rain or shine. Visitor numbers are not necessarily affected by wet weather, in fact one visiting NHS worker said “she was just grateful to be outside!”
How do you help out with the programme?
On the gardening side of things, I carry out various tasks such as repotting, weeding and pruning roses. As a Rest and Reflect assistant I am on hand to talk to or listen to visitors as they wish. None of us intrude if people don’t want to talk – some people prefer just to soak up the atmosphere, admiring the gardens or the ponds where the ducks and ducklings are also lovely to watch.
What do you gain personally from volunteering?
It is amazingly relaxing, even while doing something worthwhile. I have made lots of new friends and improved my knowledge of gardening too. I’ll definitely carry on volunteering beyond the current COVID-19 crisis.
Was there anything you found surprising?
The thing that really surprised me was how much I enjoyed it and how many lovely people I have met. The Lindengate garden is a hidden gem, a secret garden waiting to be discovered by those who can benefit from its healing effect.
Would you recommend volunteering and if so why?
Yes. It is a brilliant experience – surprisingly both relaxing and rewarding at the same time.