Inclusion Matters Service User Robert would normally volunteer two days per week at the Ark Community Gardens in Newcastle helping out in lots of ways. During lockdown when he couldn't attend the gardens he kept himself busy with doing exercise at home and lots of DIY and gardening.  He also started using Zoom for the first time to keep in touch with fellow volunteers at the Community Gardens.  

He celebrated his birthday during lockdown with a birthday fry.   He has been glad to get back to the Community gardens and see all his friends there.   Things have changed a bit due to social distancing but he is happy to be able to help out again.

Robert tells us about his experience of his involvement with Inclusion Matters 

I have been involved with Cedar for 2 years and 3 months.

I'm a volunteer with the Ark Community Gardens in Newcastle thanks to Victoria my Community Inclusion Officer at Cedar. I go on a Tuesday and a Thursday afternoon and I really enjoy working with the volunteers. I have made a lot of new friends and I very much feel a part of the team! My main job is watering the flowers but I also do other garden tasks when required. I enjoy the fellowship alongside it, as it is a Christian based organisation. I really enjoy the men’s breakfast once a month as it's great for a chat and a tasty start to the day. 

I have been to a couple of the sports talks in the hub in Downpatrick which were really interesting and I did a boccia morning which was fun.  I had also joined up for the armchair yoga but this was unfortunately postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

"I really enjoy the company the Ark Community Garden gives me and a great sense of purpose and usefulness. Being social and participating in as much as I can, gives me confidence in my everyday life."

My experience of feeling included and valued gives me a great sense of worth. It is a firm foundation to help you make friends and I am ever so grateful to Victoria at Cedar for sorting it all for me. 

A special memory was being a participant in the boccia morning. My first day at the Ark Community Gardens was also really special as I knew it was a great place and I was so pleased to have a volunteer place there.