April 8, 2022

Yasmin’s Volunteering Story

Yasmin may only have been volunteering in Horatio’s Garden London & South East for a few months, but her wonderful, moving story begins back in 2018….

What made you think about giving your time to volunteering?

I suffered a spinal injury in 2018 and was a patient at Stanmore for over four months. Back then, we had just tarmac area as a garden, very little greenery, hardly any plants. But I loved it the way it was as it was my escapism. A place for me to think, to grieve, to scream, to cry, to be alone and reflect. I really understood the significance of having a garden space to help me in my very early stages of recovery.  

I returned in 2021 for two weeks and I was completely taken aback by the transformation that the garden had gone through. I knew it was happening, but I didn’t realize just how unbelievably different it was going to be. It was beautiful! I spent almost every spare moment of my day outside of physio, medical appointments, wheelchair training and Occupational Therapy in the garden; I didn’t want to leave. I felt so excited and happy to be around nature to learn about the plants, to get involved in activities in the garden, to get to meet and chat to other patients there too. I couldn’t get enough.  

When I found out that I could volunteer in the garden, I felt so excited. This was what I needed in my life. To be in a place where my life changed but strangely gave me peace and purpose. I expressed my interest straight away and by the end of the week I had completed all the forms. I’ve been volunteering for about six months now and I’m looking forward to being part of everything the garden and charity has to offer.

What made you choose Horatio’s Garden? 

I volunteer for two other charities – they are both really special to me in different ways. But Horatio’s Garden is too. Life is made by the experiences you have; after I had my accident, I really didn’t think I’d be able to find happiness, let alone be able to volunteer for three amazing charities, contributing the way that I can. But being here and with the other charities has taught me that I definitely can. I am. I feel so fulfilled with what I can offer to Horatio’s Garden.

How often do you volunteer in the garden? 

I’d like to come in more, but I aim for about twice a month. I live around two hours drive away so it can be a bit of a challenge. However, it’s always worth the journey and by the end of the day, I never want to leave. 

What jobs do you enjoy doing? 

I enjoy all of it. There’s so much to do, so much variety, so much to learn and be involved in. I enjoy being in the greenhouse and tending to all the flowers, herbs and veggies, making sure everything is presentable and looking its best, working with the patients, getting to know them and hopefully showing them that there is so much to accomplish despite injury, getting involved in the workshops, meeting new people, having the opportunity to be creative and learn new skills.  

So far, I’ve been involved in painting, photography and cyanotype workshops! It’s so fulfilling. I’ve also been involved in a little bit of gardening. As you can probably imagine, everything associated with the labours of gardening and doing so with a spinal cord injury can be very challenging. But I love doing it and am so grateful to be in an environment which has supported me in being able to do that. I would love to do more.

How would you describe the garden to anyone who hasn’t seen it? 

This is a hard one for me as the garden is more than just a garden; it’s a reminder of where my SCI journey started, so I don’t have the words. The space is part of what kept me sane, kept me believing and it still does. I show before and after photos of the garden to friends and family who haven’t seen it themselves – that’s my best way to describe it. I have also told the story of how and why Horatio’s Garden came about – I feel that gives a very good insight into what the garden is. 

How do you feel when you come away from the garden after volunteering? 

I never want to leave at the end of my volunteering day, there’s always so much more I want to do. My time and work there make me feel fulfilled, happy, peaceful and looking forward to the next time.

What has surprised you the most about your experiences so far? 

That there is so much to do and learn from. Every day there’s a different activity or workshop for the patients to get involved in! They occasionally host live music in the garden. It’s a fun place to be and there is a really supportive network of other volunteers and staff.

Feeling inspired to become a volunteer?

To find out more about joining one of our friendly teams please click here, or email volunteer@horatiosgarden.org.uk to register your interest.

We’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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