Volunteers

Volunteers are important to Strong Roots.  There is considerable potential for personal development.  The minimum commitment is two and a half hours a week.  This is the time spent on site when attending a session.  If you feel that you are a non-judgemental person who can work in a non-directive manner as a part of a group with vulnerable people please do apply.

Reflections of a volunteer

I started volunteering with Strong Roots because I love gardening and know how much it helps me cope with the problems and stresses in my own life.  I wanted to  share that understanding and never expected to gain so much from the experience myself.

The garden itself is a delight to be in, even on a cold wet day in January.  It’s away from the traffic and hurly burly of the city around it and it feels like a haven. 

Working outside and alongside others seems to create a relaxed atmosphere and I love the sense of common purpose we sometimes find.  There’s no pressure to achieve and people enjoy the sessions in their own individual way, doing as little or much as they wish.  I get a lot from being  in a place where that kind of acceptance is offered.  It’s been a surprise – I began volunteering expecting to help people ‘do’ the garden, but have learnt  that the value is in helping to make it possible to simply ‘be’ in the garden.  Volunteering at Strong Roots is a really positive experience and I find myself looking forward to the session more and more.

Reflections of a former volunteer:I started volunteering at Strong Roots in March after seeing it featured on the UEA’s ‘Volunteering Opportunities of the Month’ page.  I’m an exchange student, and I was attracted to the project because it seemed the perfect opportunity to get out of doors and do some gardening and get involved in the community simultaneously.

My first impressions of Strong Roots were that it was an independent organisation that aimed to provide participants with a safe space to interact with other people.  The focus seemed to be on gardening less as an end product in itself, but more as a means of giving people an easily understandable and enjoyable framework within which to talk to other people.  I was really excited by the energy of the site and there seemed to be to be a lot going on in terms of both the garden and the progress of the project.  I told Lucy I was definitely nterested in volunteering and went through the interview process.

I initially began volunteering for one session a week, though by the end of my time at Strong Roots I was working two.  At the start of each session I was to arrive to arrive at the allotment fifteen minutes before the start of each session to help Lucy set up and talk  a little bit about what needed to happen in the garden, as well as any particular needs of the participants coming to the session.  When the participants arrived I’d say hello to everyone and then start working in the garden with everyone else.  Lucy and I discussed the importance of interacting in a way that was natural but that focused on the way participants wanted to interact and felt comfortable with.  The project has a real emphasis on participants being as autonomous as possible, and this is definitely reflected in the way the various groups function and feel.

 My experience as a Volunteer at Strong Roots:

I have really enjoyed my time volunteering at Strong Roots.  It’s lovely to get out in the open air and do something worthwhile and it is also very grounding to get your hands dirty!  Being on the allotment feels like being out of Norwich. I’ve met some really interesting people, and the project feels like a very therapeutic environment. It’s lovely to see participants open up and gain confidence, and get involved in planning what to do.  Volunteering has also given me confidence to try new things and change direction.  I would recommend it to anyone.