OPP OF THE DAY: Support Volunteer with our Horticulture Project, Dudley Mind (Growing with Dudley Mind projects)

We run a programme of gardening and horticulture because we havDudley Mind logoe a good base of evidence that ‘green’, outdoor therapies can reduce isolation, promote good mental wellbeing by:
– connecting people with others
– helping people to be more active
– learning new skills
– taking noticing of nature and the passing seasons
– giving satisfaction from a job well done

Our projects run on a model of ‘Supported Volunteering’. People join as Volunteer Gardeners who have current or past experience of poor mental health. They may be at very different stages in their mental health recovery but they all want to improve their mental (and physical) health. Everyone who joins is encouraged to try new skills or to resurrect old ones and to set aims for themselves – which may be about moving towards employment. Everyone is valued for their abilities and the contribution they can make rather than for their “problems” – often known as an ‘asset based’ approach. At present we have sites at Stevens Park, Wollescote and in Cradley. We do practical gardening, landscaping and DIY type activities and run short courses or workshops on gardening and linked subjects. Courses are part classroom based, part practical.

Cradley Wildlife Garden is a protected nature conservation site in an historic churchyard where we tend the site to encourage plant and wildlife diversity. We meet here on Tuesdays.

The Wollescote garden is our main site where we currently meet on Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s a beautiful site, in an historic setting with views over the Clent and Clee Hills. We are working in partnership with Dudley Council’s Parks Development Team who are seeking new ways for people to be involved in their local parks. Our work also fits with Dudley’s food growing strategy but we’re not just about edible gardening, we are also creating a restful, scented space and we tend all the plants and shrubs in the garden. During 2016 the group has been renovating the old glasshouses and bringing them back into community use.

The groups meet at least 50 weeks of the year, rain or shine, and we like our volunteers to give a regular commitment as this enables individuals to get to know people over a period of time. If possible we would like you to commit to a 4 hour weekly slot for 6 months.

What will I do?
Each group assesses what tasks need to be done each session and agree between them who is doing what. Support volunteers work alongside group members with the practical tasks and to carry out other activities which could include:
– Helping to set up for the day – getting out tools and equipment as needed
– Listening and talking to individuals attending the activities
– ‘Buddying’ for new group members or when someone needs support
– Helping with the running of courses
– Helping with refreshments
– Helping with admin tasks/marketing for the projects
– Helping to clear away at the end of the session
– Keeping a safe and clean environment and following health and safety procedures on site as guided by the Horticulture Manager

Some support volunteers have particular skills and expertise that they may want to share as part of the projects’ activities. We can, by agreement, create opportunities for you to lead on some areas of work such as gardening, plant propagation, landscaping, general DIY, woodwork. If you have a skill or hobby you want to share please let us know when you come in for your discussion with us about volunteering.

– A non-judgemental approach and the ability to empathise is essential
– An ability to listen to others and communicate well in a calm way with a wide range of people is also essential
– An alertness to and ability to asses risk (after training) and to judge when to seek staff input is essential
– Any gardening or DIY type skills and knowledge would be appreciated but not essential
– A willingness to be out in all weathers and prepared to ‘have a go’
– An understanding of the stigma and discrimination people with mental health issues face in their everyday lives
– An ability to take responsibility for own wellbeing and seek support when needed
– A willingness to attend any training that might be required, also support and supervision sessions
– You will be expected to follow our policies and procedures such as our confidentiality policy and our health and safety procedures.
– We welcome people who have their own lived experience of mental distress who can be open about their own experiences whilst maintaining boundaries

How much time will I give?
We would like you to commit to volunteering regularly up to 6 months. We recognise that you will have appointments, holidays and other commitments so we can be flexible, but we do ask that you let us know well in advance so we can put plans in place.
– Wollescote sessions run from 9:30 to 1:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays.
– Cradley Wildlife Garden is on Tuesdays 10:00 to 1:00

When you come for your initial discussion with us we will ask you which days and times are best for you and will do our best to accommodate you within our timetable.

What can I expect from Dudley Mind?
We really value our support volunteers and want to make your volunteering experience with us a positive one so we will provide the following:
– A named person for you to work alongside
– Training about mental health – usually the nationally recognised Mental Health First Aid course
– Other training relevant to your activity e.g. health and safety; introductions to safeguarding and to autism
– An induction including an introduction to the policies and procedures we will expect you to follow
– All venues have facilities for refreshments, toilets, hand-washing.
– Regular support sessions where you can discuss any concerns you might have
– Access to any newsletters or e-bulletins we provide to keep you up to date
– A safe and inclusive space to volunteer
– A friendly welcome from the rest of the team
– Out of pocket expenses within our agreed guidelines
– We can also provide a reference for you if you have been volunteering with us for more than 6 months

As we work with vulnerable adults if you are accepted as a volunteer we will ask you to complete a DBS check before you can start to work alongside individuals who are attending our activities. If you do have any convictions, it may not automatically bar you from volunteering with us but failing to disclose convictions that then came to light would exclude you. We will also ask for references from the people you have nominated on your form.
If we do not need new volunteers when you apply, we will let you know when we receive your application form and keep your details on file if you wish.

Jill Hogan
Email: jill.hogan@dudleymind.org.uk

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