I got involved in the garden through a befriender who was also into gardening. We both decided that the Meanwhile Garden on Connswater Street would be great to go and see, then we would take it from there. I was extremely nervous about meeting new people, but the staff were brilliant and made us feel at home from the start.
I was not able to get out much as my mum is disabled. Now she is also involved with the arts and crafts side of the garden. She loves to create different projects to display and brighten up the garden. She has knitted a family of vegetables and fruits and has started to design ladybirds and bees using the larger rocks from the garden. It helps to keep her busy. She also loves making her well-loved egg and onion sandwiches for different events, we both love to cook.
Before, I very rarely left my house. The fact that I was able to go to the garden and do something different, which is good for my health, helped to make me feel less lonely. Over the years I have gained confidence; self-esteem and the ability to talk to new people. I enjoy going to the garden because I love being able to work with my hands; the feeling that you are getting stuck into your work brings a whole new satisfaction. I love watching things grow over the weeks and months, knowing that in the end everyone gets to enjoy the fruits of their labour. It’s a great feeling.
The Groundwork staff help the volunteers a lot with different seeds and all the equipment that we need. They have also provided us with the option of doing training courses to build on our knowledge of gardening but also of health and safety as well as first aid and have provided us with the skills and knowledge to work with children and vulnerable adults.
I would love for the Connswater Meanwhile Garden to become a permanent site and have more funding to do more events and bring in more people, especially those with children so that we can teach them to enjoy gardening as much as we do. I would also love to be able to help out more.
Since Sarah shared this story with us, we were sorry to hear of the news that her mum passed away. Debbie was a great asset to the garden and she will be greatly missed.