After spending decades creating and selling beauty products, Anastasia decided to embark on a second career in horticulture. “I wanted to focus more exclusively on my love of plants,” she says.

She had always been interested in gardening, from starting a vegetable patch in the Cotswolds to using plants in her cosmetics, but she began to think more about its therapeutic potential. 

She searched online for volunteering opportunities that would allow her to use gardening as therapy for those with poor mental health, and SHP fitted the bill. The Green Programme Coordinator showed her around a few of our gardens. When she saw the yard at the Arundel Project, a hostel for people with mental health issues, she says she “fell in love with the space - it had a huge potential.”

In the time that Anastasia has been volunteering with us, Arundel’s garden has made significant progress. Alongside other volunteers and SHP clients, she has helped to seed a wildflower meadow and plant fruit trees. There is a vegetable patch and they plan to build a campfire. While getting a large turnout for gardening sessions has been challenging, a few clients have become really engaged with the work.

She believes that she has “just scratched the surface of the potential, as a garden is a long-term thing.” Her plan is to continue to volunteer for SHP for years to come. She hopes that the space can become a resource for those across the charity.

Besides its therapeutic benefits, Anastasia is motivated by the chance to express herself creatively. She sees the gardening programme as “an opportunity to create things of beauty.” In a few years, when the Arundel garden has developed, she hopes to use it as a model for future projects. “It will cross-fertilise the other work I will do,” she says.