Volunteering matters March 1, 2020

Martineau Gardens Volunteer: Aubrey


Aubrey – back in the new garden area he has helped to create

This is Aubrey, a volunteer on our Therapeutic Horticulture Programme. His story is one of incredible challenges, met and overcome with resilience and determination. In six months, he has become  a valued team member and has made huge changes in his personal life.

Aubrey hasn’t had it easy and he admits to making choices when he was younger, that he now regrets. He had a difficult childhood, with lots of setbacks.

A little over six months ago, Aubrey came for a trial volunteering session at Martineau Gardens, after facing rejection at other places, he describes a very different experience. He chatted to people, felt at ease and really believed that he would fit in. He wasn’t wrong; a few days later, he got a call from the office ….

“I thought they’d changed their mind and didn’t want me. I was gutted, but instead they asked for my help. They had been let down and needed some digging doing straight away on a new garden. They needed me!”

So Aubrey and some other volunteers came in and saved the day, they worked incredibly hard, laughed and dug and chatted and made friends in the mud. A regular and much loved Martineau Gardens’ volunteer since that day in the Courtyard Garden, Aubrey describes how even on days when he really doesn’t feel like getting up, he still comes in, because he knows he will feel better afterwards. Coming on the bus, he says he feels different – there’s an excitement and real sense of something good about to happen and at the end of the day he’s tired but feels really lifted to have done something that helps.

It’s hard to hear Aubrey talk about the things that make a difference to him when he volunteers at Martineau Gardens. He talks about being shamed at school because he needed help with reading and writing. Teachers and students joined together and laughed at him in front of everybody. He says:

When I’m working here, Stewart notices if I don’t know how to do something. I don’t even have to ask. He shows me without making me feel stupid. That matters.

Just before Christmas, we got the best news … Aubrey was assessed as being able to have his own supported flat. He and we are so proud and that was even before he told us he had two job offers.  A new job means he might have to leave Martineau Gardens, but Aubrey will always be part of the Martineau Gardens family; if we could, we would have given him a job. He said:

“Martineau Gardens has given me hope.  Hope that I can get a legal job and never have to be looking over my shoulder again.”