I spent 12 months working as a Green Gym Project Officer in the South Leeds area after 17 years youth and education work in the same location. Looking back, I was a little battered and shell shocked myself after being made redundant from a job I had done for so many years but; this was an amazing experience for me, I met some of the best people I have ever come across in my life, kind , caring , passionate and giving , when some themselves had little.
I worked with people from all walks of life who arrived as individuals with their own worries and troubles who very soon formed friendships and supported each other. Some of these friendships still carry on today.
2 years on from this project ending for me I still receive message, good wishes and reference requests from past volunteers and some I still meet for a coffee. Only the other day I bumped into one of the Syrian refugees I worked with, he came over shook my hand and introduced me to his wife and children, it made my day.
I remember working on an allotment in Beeston and the other plot holders looking on unsure when the refugees joined the group, they soon changed their attitudes when they saw for themselves differently to what they read in the papers. The plot holders used to joke with me saying all they could hear on a Tuesday was me and the group laughing, that was because we were having such a good time.
Being together as a group working outdoors gave the groups a bond and a sense of belonging to something good.
TCV gave me the confidence to move on with my life and realise I could do anything I wanted to do.