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Ruth’s Story: Finding a footing in the world again

Allotment fountain
I first heard about the allotment project from a friend. I am a mum of two young children, and it was a fellow mum who shared her own positive experiences accessing support and activities with Manchester Mind, which encouraged me to apply. I met with the volunteer coordinator, Dionne, and we gently talked about my experiences. Recent years had been hard and I had been struggling to cope with an accumulation of stress. I felt I needed a safe and nurturing space to rebuild my confidence and regain my own identity.

Lockdown, a relocation and long house renovation were impacting my ability to manage the difficulties I was experiencing. My Dad had an extremely long stay in hospital, due to complications after an operation and although he did come home, the result was a terminal diagnosis. So, I had been dealing with this and trying to support my Mum whilst navigating the fast and everchanging nature of motherhood and looking after my two young children. Sadly, I lost my Dad which added grief to the struggle. Contacting Manchester Mind, I was hoping to meet like-minded people and find peer support from others who may understand what I had been going through. I really wanted to find my footing in the world again. I felt like a community space, where I could learn new skills in a green environment would work for me.

We decided that before becoming a volunteer I would attend the 6 session “Introduction to the Allotment” course to get a feel for the space and have some time to myself to engage in some gentle gardening without pressure. This was a more relaxed entry point and I was told I could access support if I needed it by the staff and peer volunteers there. I had felt lost since my youngest child had started nursery and the course helped me to build a sense of routine and gave me a job to do. I felt nurtured, like I could just be. I felt looked after and the food was amazing!

When I finished the 6 sessions I felt it had made a difference and I felt a lot more positive. The wellbeing time on the allotment inspired me to make sure I went out in my own garden more regularly to take breaks and get some fresh air. It also gave me time to think about things for myself and make time for myself. I felt ready afterwards to commit to the volunteering pathway. I now attend weekly volunteering sessions with a group of other people, many who have experienced similar feelings of loss, grief and isolation. Since joining the allotment, I feel a stronger sense of connection to the charity, feel more useful and I am more confident speaking to and meeting new people. I feel supported by others who are going through similar situations. I am now looking for part-time or freelance work to fit around my family and volunteering life, and I hope to return to the creative costume-making career that I had invested in and enjoyed so much previously.

I love being a volunteer for Manchester Mind and am looking forward to my continuing journey.


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