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.
Jo Worley talks to us about volunteering with our Parks in Mind ecotherapy group in Knvyeton Gardens and what it means to her...
What inspired you to start volunteering?
I was working in marketing for large corporations and well just didn't really feel that I could do more at a grass route level to improve the world I lived in. I originally started just fundraising as I used to run marathons. Fundraising was helping people but I wanted a more direct approach. I love meeting new people and learning about other's lives and volunteering was a natural progression.
I started volunteering with the Guide Dogs. I would walk with a group and we would effectively become a guide dog for a couple of hours, to a blind person, whilst the dogs got to be dogs again. I did this for five year. I met amazing people whose bravery humbled me. I learnt about the challenges people faced everyday and how they overcame them. I made great friends, learnt new skills and every time I felt a positive sense of well being.
What does volunteering with us mean to you?
I went through significant life adversities, which brought me to Bournemouth. I was in a new town, lonely and my self-confidence was at an all time low.
I started volunteering with Parks in Mind in December 2018 for a multitude of reasons: meet new people, add structure to my week, get outside and learn new skills. It was a way back from the life challenges I was experiencing. One of my fondest memories is planting bulbs in Knyveton Garden in the dark one December afternoon. Well it brought me joy to see those flowers in spring. It was so rewarding to see the work we had done transform a space. When I started working again I would walk through the gardens and saw the love that had been sowed back in. It's just such a positive thing. People grow whilst transforming our parks for everyone else to enjoy.
What do you like best about your volunteer experience?
I have spent many years volunteering; it was the simplest thing to offer my time and skills and feel personally rewarded at the same time. There is nothing better than making a difference, however small, to someone and at the same time yourself.
It has brought me so many things: joy, personal growth, life skills and a general appreciation of how much can be achieved when we work together.
If someone was considering starting to volunteer with us, what would you say to them?
What are you waiting for? You will grow personally, have fun, make friends and learn new skills, some may say it will change your life and if it doesn't, well just think your actions may have changed someone else's for the best.
Thanks to Jo for her cheery smile which she brings to every Parks in Mind session!
If you're interested in joining our Parks in Mind team of volunteers please contact our Project Leader, Peter Holloway: