Meet Claire: from allotment volunteer to GreenCare Manager

by Suffolk Mind Team | 07 Jun 2023

You may remember Claire Stone from last year’s Volunteers’ Week article.

This year, we’re pleased to share that Claire has recently gone from allotment volunteer to GreenCare Manager, helping us to grow mental health in Suffolk.

In this blog, we meet Claire again for a little Q&A, to find out why she loves working with GreenCare, whatever her role.

You’ve been with us since 2019. What made you start volunteering with us?

After more than 20 years’ working in the energy industry, I wanted a change – something that was going to make a difference to my local community. In a complete contrast to my career, I decided to join Suffolk Mind as a GreenCare volunteer.

What made you choose to volunteer with GreenCare?

I’ve always had a love for gardening. A wonderful report on Gardeners’ World highlighted the benefits of community gardening schemes and the link to mental health, so when I saw the opportunity to join GreenCare, I took it!

Our Ipswich GreenCare allotment

For those who don’t know, what is GreenCare?

GreenCare brings together groups of people all working to care for the allotment sites, helping them to flourish. In doing so, people learn new valuable skills while meeting their Emotional Needs for Community, Movement and Achievement.

Have you learned anything new through volunteering?

I had never tried growing fruit and vegetables, only flowers. Volunteering with GreenCare has taught me a huge amount – so much it gave me the confidence to apply for my own allotment. After a successful day with the GreenCare community, I often find myself putting new skills into practice on my own plot.

Has volunteering benefitted your mental health?

I have always noticed the benefits gardening has on my mental health. It’s a great activity for mindfulness and being in the moment, concentrating on what matters at the time. Gardening provides a great sense of achievement and its something I’ve witnessed everyone experience with GreenCare.

In some ways it helps me appreciate other things more which we may take for granted – such as a nice cup of tea after a busy time digging and sowing!

What’s the best thing about volunteering for Suffolk Mind?

There’s a real sense of community with Suffolk Mind. Whether it’s working on our plot through GreenCare, or speaking to other volunteers across different areas, there’s a real feeling of belonging. Not only that, but I take great pride in helping our allotment and our participants to thrive.

To find out more about our currently volunteer roles and how to apply, please visit our Volunteering page.

by Suffolk Mind Team
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