Lindengate – group volunteering

Since 2014 Lindengate has offered specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs in their continuing recovery.

Operating from a five-acre site adjacent to the Wyevale Garden Centre in Wendover, Lindengate gives people the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of gardening, art & craft, cooking, conservation and construction activities in a managed, calm and safe environment, either individually or in small groups, to help work towards their recovery.

How volunteers help Lindengate

Lindengate’s volunteers, both group and individuals, help with all aspects of the charity from board level decisions as trustees, supporting its service users, through to helping in the gardens, fundraising and administration.

As a young charity, Lindengate is still developing site facilities and activity areas and it is with these larger projects that group volunteering has had a huge impact: having teams of people to tackle the big site jobs has meant that tasks can be finished in a day which would otherwise take several weeks. Groups have undertaken projects such as building a bee enclosure, an outdoor shelter and a log wall in its sensory garden, as well as various landscaping tasks including laying paths and patios.

Group volunteering projects vary and are tailored to each volunteer group: for example, a team from Janssen built wooden cages for trees looked after on behalf of AVDC, doing something of real value whilst enjoying using power tools! Alternatively, a group from Lloyds Banking helped to prepare a stall for a fundraising event, picking flowers and vegetables as well as producing signage and stall decoration.

The local community has also been very supportive with visits from local school groups, youth groups as well as community groups. For example, the local Women’s Institute has supported numerous events with cake baking and teas.

What volunteers bring to Lindengate

Volunteers are the life blood of Lindengate. They help out with all aspects of the charity: they bring everything from personality and passion, compassion and patience, experience, to ideas and enthusiasm. They bring far more than just vital skills and manpower.

In particular volunteer groups help get projects done quickly but the charity also enjoys being able to give these teams a purpose and see them enjoying themselves.

How volunteers benefit from helping Lindengate

Lindengate’s volunteers have reported on many different ways they have benefited from being involved with the charity, both as an individual and as part of a group.

On one level, people volunteering as part of a group have enjoyed working as a team and getting to know each other outside of the office. Volunteers have also stated they have a sense of achievement having made a difference to other people’s lives in particular as well as the local community and environment.

On another level, many have gained a greater understanding of mental illness by volunteering with the charity and its Gardeners (see quotes below).

Quotes from some of Lindengate’s volunteers:

“Volunteering in the gardens and being part of the community has reduced my own stress problems as well as allowing me to take time to focus and think.”

“I’ve made new friends, learnt a new skill, and created something of value.”

“It’s been good to meet new people with mental health issues and learning that just turning up is a great achievement for them.”

“I got involved initially through work and it soon became clear that I would prefer to volunteer and make my involvement something for me.”

“I’ve learnt to be more patient, show empathy, and have enjoyed sharing time with Gardeners.”

“I have met some really nice people with similar interests to me, and it has helped my social skills which I think I need to improve.”

“I have benefited in several ways: I have enjoyed having a sense of purpose, gained some gardening skills and improved my CV.”

“I feel at last I am of use.”

“It’s a rewarding place to be and I have seen the benefits given to Gardeners. The knowledge and skills of those managing Lindengate are phenomenal.”

Quotes from the charity

“Volunteering brings all sorts of people, young and old and from all walks of life, together which is life enriching. People exchange ideas. It helps to improve people’s mental and physical health, which is always positive to any community as it has a knock on effect on others in the community.” Charlie Powell, Co-founder, Lindengate

“For any organisation or community group wondering how to involve a volunteer group, plan ahead and include a presentation on your organisation to give perspective and show how their efforts would help. Always have a structure to the day and be well organised but remember to make it enjoyable – and always have a plan B!” Diane Kolonko, Volunteer Manager, Lindengate.

For more information on volunteering and group volunteering at Lindengate, please get in contact on tel 01296 622443, email volunteer@lindengate.org.uk, www.lindengate.org.uk

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