As part of National Volunteering Week we're celebrating some of the amazing work our volunteers do both in our parks and Head Office. If you're interested in volunteering then have a look at our volunteering opportunities to find out how you could support us.
Douglas Pinchen talks to us about volunteering with our Parks in Mind group...
What inspired you to start volunteering?
I had a gardening business but I ran into emotional, domestic and mental health difficulties and became homeless. After eventually finding accommodation, I began a recovery programme which involved rehabilitation into the work environment by volunteering for activities at Parks in Mind. I also see it as good citizenship anyway and helping rejuvenate the parks to family-oriented environments is a pleasing assignment. It also gives me the feeling of paying my way whilst on benefits and keeping reasonably fit and in a schedule.
How long have you been volunteering?
I was a minister for 8 years in a charity, but also volunteered in 2004 for a furniture charity. I used to raise funds for the RAFA as an Air Cadet in the 1980's, so I've been volunteering on and off many years. I started with Parks in Mind in August last year (2019) after being referred by my support worker (I think!).
What does volunteering with us mean to you?
Through and after the emotional turmoil of divorce and mental-ill health, Parks in Mind has given me some much-needed breathing space where I can socialize and do something meaningful with others who are or have also been struggling. I can now walk around Bournemouth and feel at home, perhaps bumping into a volunteer and sharing some news. I also think Parks in Mind is going to have a profound effect on the shape of parks - with the rhododendrons being removed to make way for more environmentally-friendly trees, the parks have the potential of becoming real wildlife havens and beautiful assets to the communities of Bournemouth once more. I get a sense of civic pride because I feel although I am not well enough to hold down a job at the moment, Parks in Mind provides the opportunity to improve my self-esteem and sense of well-being which in turn increases my confidence. I have also learnt new things about people, places, ecosystems, habitat management - and even seeing the effects of neglect and self-abuse by people in the parks has increased my personal awareness.
What do you like best about volunteering with Parks in Mind?
I can only narrow it down to three things, to narrow it down any further would be unfair: I like the outside activities in the fresh air amongst the animals; the socialising for tea/lunch breaks when we can relax and the positive impact on everyone by setting a good example for others and making the parks look pleasant again.
If someone was to start volunteering for us, what would you say to them?
It's a worthwhile cause with short- and long-term impact. Bring your safety boots - it's not all sunshine and pretty flowers.....ha ha!
Thanks to Douglas for sharing what volunteering with us means to him, we're extremely humble that we can support him in this way while he's doing so much for us in our parks and open spaces.
If you're interested in joining our Parks in Mind team of volunteers please contact our Project Leader, Peter Holloway: