Why do people volunteer with TCV? Over the next few weeks we’ll feature some of our ‘regulars’ in this blog, starting with Robert McKay. Robert is a volunteer with the Green Gym, part of the Greenspace for Health Project at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital, Inverness.
“I first became involved in the Greenspace project by referral and began working in this Occupational Therapy garden which had become overgrown. So the idea was to create a lovely, welcoming space for people who are recovering and in hospital. People could venture into the garden for leisure or to get involved in its upkeep. Then there are other aspects to it such as the Green Gym where inpatients can come along and do some gentle gardening and exercise. I think what’s valuable about it is connecting with nature, and people coming together in a friendly and supportive environment. Providing a safe environment – people need that.
It has definitely brought about positive change for me, because prior to volunteering I was very much in a place of avoiding lots of things – I was avoiding leaving the house …. avoiding coming into Inverness. It has brought me out of that. I was encouraged by my CPN to get involved in volunteering. I heard about the Greenspace project which I thought would be an exciting thing to get involved with. I was really enthusiastic about it. Aspects of it just appealed to me because of shared interests – nature, going out into nature, collecting things, doing things with crafts. So we went out into nature and created some lovely things like dreamcatchers. Everyone made a really nice job.
How has this changed me? I think that number one, it’s challenging the day to day anxieties that I have, and volunteering gets me out meeting different people and to face different challenges. Getting here is a challenge, getting home is a challenge. And then from this, it’s given me the confidence to volunteer at the Centre for Mental Health Recovery in Inverness which has been rewarding, and I’ve been involved with Branching Out and others which I’ve enjoyed. So, it’s been really good.”
Robert is pictured below picking apples in the new orchard at Cala, New Craigs Hospital.
Robert’s Green Gym is organised by Alis Balance, Greenspace for Health Project Officer, who says: “I really appreciate the help and support that Robert gives me as a regular TCV volunteer. He is wonderful to work with and has become a valued colleague.”
The Greenspace for Health project at New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital, Inverness, was instigated by a steering group, which included NHS staff and SNH staff, to provide outdoor therapy and recovery programmes involving patients, outpatients and staff. It is funded by the Green Exercise Partnership (Forestry Commission Scotland, SNH and Natural Health Service), and is delivered by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). For details contact Alis at 07801 686 046 or firstname.lastname@example.org