Recently, a study with the University of Westminster and the University of Essex showed the benefits TCV’s Green Gyms can have on health and wellbeing. The study reported that Green Gym participants showed significant increases in wellbeing and gave evidence of the benefits of community nature-based activities.
With this in mind, we wanted to follow a session at one of our Green Gyms and take you along on the journey with our newest team member and marketing executive, Katie. Katie visited TCV Hollybush, a busy former farmhouse in Leeds that contains a café, vegetable patch, polytunnel, gardens, and more.
Arriving at TCV Hollybush in Leeds, I was met with friendly faces from both staff and volunteers. There were a range of long-standing volunteers and participants who were only on their second or third week at the Green Gym, but everyone was happily chatting before the session began. Freya, the team leader, began the session by assigning tasks and gave everyone the opportunity to volunteer for the task they wanted to do the most. There was a variety of tasks available, including re-potting plants in the polytunnel, clearing overgrown paths, deadheading plants, and turning compost.
Once tasks were assigned, work got underway. Volunteer Aaron, started by deadheading the buddleia at the front of the building. While working, Aaron got chatting about his time with TCV. Not only does he volunteer at Hollybush’s Green Gym once a week, but he also takes part in wildlife walks. Aaron told the group that since he began volunteering, he feels like he has been getting out and about more. He said “I enjoy being out in the gardens. Sometimes it is hard work with longer days, but I enjoy it and enjoy some of the special events like Christmas at Hollybush.”
It was clear that both the volunteers and TCV staff have a great time working in the Green Gym. They get to spend time chatting as they work, build friendships and get active outdoors. They can get hands-on with many different activities. After he had finished deadheading, Aaron, and some of the TCV staff moved to the Hollybush garden to pick some fruit and vegetables to prepare for the group’s tea break. On the menu was fresh courgette and raspberries which Freya turned into a delicious salad, served alongside bread and cheese.
Halfway through the session, all the volunteers took a well-deserved break to have a hot drink, eat the fresh salad, and spend more time chatting and laughing. During this break, I got to talk to one of Hollybush’s most long-standing volunteers, Stanley. Stanley has volunteered on and off with TCV since 1997 and enjoys socialising with others while he works. He commented, “It is a good opportunity to come and meet people when you are retired.”
After the break, I headed to the poly-tunnel with Mariam and Winnie to chat about how they find the Green Gym, Mariam said “the Green Gym has helped me recuperate and rejuvenate. I don’t live nearby but I enjoy it so that is why I travel here every week.”
Overall, there is a real sense of teamwork within the Hollybush Green Gym and all Green Gyms across the UK. It is a place for people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and stories to come together with a common purpose: nurturing local green spaces. The Green Gym also provides a real flexibility for its volunteers to just do as much as they can and show up when they can. The one thing the volunteers have in common is the enjoyment and fulfilment they feel from working together at TCV Hollybush Green Gym: a place in the community for all.
Find your nearest Green Gym.
Read more about the Health Benefits of Green Gyms.
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