“The work we do here changes lives. Not many people can say that about their job”

Themes: Volunteering; employment; skills building; horticulture

A proud East Ender, Sharon (left) found herself in Bow in the 1990s, as a young single parent feeling isolated and quite lost. She met local staff-member Mandy who persuaded her to volunteer at the Centre. The two women have been friends ever since and both are key figures in the Centre community.

Despite having main caring responsibilities for elderly parents at the time, one with dementia, Sharon worked with the adult social care service at the Centre for many years, firstly as a volunteer, then as an employee. A fun and no-nonsense person, Sharon was perfect for the client group.

Then the Centre supported her to train with the Royal Horticultural Society and become qualified as a gardener. Sharon now runs gardening and horticulture groups and helps keep the grounds looking beautiful for the community to enjoy. Sharon believes gardening is better for mental health than medication.

She recently joined a Centre community partnership project with the National Theatre and has developed her performing arts skills.  She has now acted on stage in two sell-out productions, one performed on the theatre’s Oliver stage on the south bank in London.

“The Centre does so much for people but what it does best is give you space to be yourself. I love the new gardening role, not just for being outside and among plants but because, for many clients who come and garden with me every week, it changes their lives.  Not many people can say that about their job.” 

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