A Thank You to Our Volunteers of 2023

Reflecting on a year of meaningful connections with our team of extraordinary volunteers.

As the year comes to a close and the festive spirit fills the air, we find ourselves reflecting on the wonderful journey we’ve shared together. As we express our gratitude, we want to shine a spotlight on those who have brought joy and laughter to our therapeutic gardening sessions, intergenerational projects, tech workshops, Wishing Washing Line West participants and Dementia Meeting Centres. Thank you so much to all our volunteers for your support, dedication, and warmth.

We planted, sang, danced, crafted, played games, and felt the sunshine on our faces; we went on trips, made willow wreaths, harvested vegetables, celebrated together and shared stories, meals and smiles.

Our volunteers helped to connect young and old, answered questions about computers and smartphones, provided a friendly face and listening ear to carers facing bereavement, cleaned the dishes after a shared lunch, grew hops together, and fulfilled wishes of residents in care. Together, we visited care homes across Bristol to brighten days with person-centred, light-hearted activity sessions.

Thanks to our shared efforts, our community gardens across Bristol are thriving. We are indebted to the many groups of corporate volunteers who have come along for a day and helped us with bigger tasks, like clearing, fencing and painting. Your support is very much appreciated and helps us provide inclusive, accessible gardening for older people in Bristol – thank you.

We aim to deliver sessions that benefit wellbeing in a holistic way. It was beautiful to hear this reflected back in a poem by one of our recent volunteers, Samantha Tucker, who visited our dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry as part of the Shift Practical Sustainability Course. Here is an excerpt from her poem, ‘Voices of the Allotment’:

What if we all realised that growing
One seed is akin to a rebellion?
That even when people are forgetting;
Slipping bits away from themselves,
Like a traveller washed up on an island,
Seeking familiarity –
That it might be found in:
The richly scented rosemary
Or the cloddy touch of soil,
Thick with clay
And reminiscent of art class.

Who knew that slips of self might
Be found between
The sprout stems and rhubarb?
That in the tracing of fingers
On the earth,
One’s own place might be remembered
Or less misunderstood.

The whole poem can be found here.

As we bid farewell to 2023, we look forward to the opportunities that the coming year holds. With the support of our amazing volunteers, we look forward to continuing our mission of ‘lighting up later life’. One exciting project we have starting in 2024 is our new dementia-friendly allotment in South Bristol. We can’t wait to open our gates to new volunteers and participants alike and share the joy of gardening with new faces.

So thank you, dear volunteers, for your commitment and efforts, your enthusiasm, your time, and the kindness that you shared with us throughout the year. We are truly grateful to have you with us.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with hope, joy, and many moments of happiness, and are looking forward to seeing you in 2024.

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