“I was referred to AMH New Horizons Downpatrick by my CPN and agreed to give it a go as I was willing to try anything in order to help with my social anxiety and confidence.
After the initial meeting I agreed to attend two days a week. I started with the stress management and confidence building courses delivered by Ciara. I found these to be very beneficial and Ciara to be a lovely person who helped me to settle into the service.
Following on from that I decided to try my hand at the garden centre with Keith the Horticulture Instructor. I found this also to be very a friendly and relaxed environment and always looked forward to attending each week.
After a month or two I realised gardening was the vocation for me. This after 15 years in administration, it was a huge comfort knowing I was finally doing something I enjoyed. This then lead me on to complete my NVQ in Horticulture with AMH New Horizons.
After a few more months I met with Stephanie the Employment Officer who asked me if I would like to pursue an opportunity in a gardening role with the National Trust at Rowallane Garden. This was soon arranged and I met with Lucy, the Volunteer Co-ordinator (National Trust) who made me feel very welcome. Before I knew it, I had started 1 day a week, getting to learn the various roles. After 6 months I realised I would like to attend another day and Lucy arranged this to suit.
My volunteering role not only educates me in learning various aspects of plants, shrubs, etc. but has given me a routine. I have built on my social skills and I am always meeting new people week to week and growing in confidence. The team at Rowallane are all so kind and always willing to help you.
I would say to anyone who is thinking about attending, to give it a go, you’ve nothing to lose and so much to gain from it. By attending AMH New Horizons you will never feel the odd one out as everyone is there for a reason.
Thanks to the staff at AMH New Horizons for all your help and support over the years”.
Many thanks to Emma for sharing her story. Emma is taking part in the “Working It Out” project which is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts. To find out more please click here.