Paula currently lives in a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Salford. Groundwork visits the centre once a week to teach residents horticultural and life skills to help them on their journey to recovery.
“I’ve always had an interest in gardening so it’s been great having a teacher.
"Having the focus of the garden is helping me on my road to recovery – it’s my sanctuary."
“What I’m taught on a Tuesday afternoon I’ll practice in the garden all week, whether that’s tending to the planters or growing vegetables. I find gardening very relaxing. It helps me to stay occupied and stops me thinking about other things.
“I used to watch my dad garden and I’ve always enjoyed it, but I'd never grown half the things I’ve grown here like potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries as well as the flowers and plants. The classes have helped me learn so many new things. It’s great when I look out the window and see what I’ve achieved. Sometimes I just go outside and look at it. It makes me happy.
“We are having some grass and decking put in soon, so I’m looking forward to that – I can practice my handiwork!
"We made homemade potato salad recently from the potatoes we grew. It was such a great feeling to see - and eat! - what I accomplished.
“I’m due to leave the centre in three weeks. I’ll only be round the corner and I’ll come back and visit, but I’ve left instructions for the other residents who will be looking after the garden. The garden has brought out a determination in me; I’ve started something so I want to finish it.”
“I’ve recently applied for two horticultural assistant jobs which I’m due to hear about soon.
"Having the focus of the garden is helping me on my road to recovery – it’s my sanctuary.”