Anita, 49, is an active member of her community in Harlow. She takes pride in helping others who are recovering from alcohol and substance misuse by sharing the inspiring journey of her own recovery through the power of gardening and being part of a community.
It was a different time for Anita at one stage in her life. She was struggling with alcohol addiction which impacted both her physical and mental health. She lost hope in being able to recover and it affected her self-esteem. She started gardening as part of her recovery and this made such a difference to her that she was able to then volunteer to support other people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Her volunteering led her to Harlow Town Park and the group of residents that maintain this valuable green space in the heart of the town.
“I’m 17 years sober from alcohol. I wanted to help others with my experience to show that there is hope in recovering and that we can break the stigma of alcohol addiction. I have been able to give back. Recovery doesn’t have to be in a classroom environment, it can be done being out and about – you can kick addiction! I’m outdoorsy. I didn’t know what to do with myself as alcohol addiction is chaotic but Gardening at Harlow Town Park is methodical and relaxing, and this helped me to recover.”
Time Credits help with challenges on the recovery journey
Anita loves that Harlow Town Park adopted Time Credits to support and give back to their volunteers. She has enjoyed earning Time Credits regularly for the past 6 months by growing vegetables, socialising with other volunteers and maintaining the garden for the community.
“Time Credits has given me and others who have challenges an opportunity to go to other places without the financial worry. For many like me who have had alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to engage in uplifting activities or afford to do something nice for ourselves. Time Credits has helped so many of us to feel valued and go on the road to recovery as it provides us with an incentive to volunteer and try something new!”
Affording new, rewarding experiences
Anita spent her Time Credits in February 2020 on a trip to Kew Gardens with 4 other volunteers from Harlow Town Park. It was the first time she had visited Kew Gardens, since a childhood trip. She had a rewarding experience being around nature and doing something she is passionate about. Anita felt the trip helped her engage with all her senses and enjoyed being able to learn new educational facts about the plants and flowers from the exhibitions. The opportunity to visit the Gardens in a group was most beneficial for Anita as it gave her confidence and encouraged social interaction with the other volunteers, outside of their normal environment.
“It was different for me being in a collective group and it was a wonderful new experience as I don’t go out much in a group setting. I found it rewarding. The staff at Kew Gardens and at Tempo were so friendly. We felt like excited children! I’m so happy that I’ve made stronger friendships as a result of our trip!”. Without Time Credits she says, she would not have been able to afford to go.
Doing things that you love
Anita is already planning her next trip to Kew Gardens in May 2020 and she plans to take more of her friends and volunteers from Harlow Town Park with her. A fan of comedy clubs, Anita was excited to find out that she can spend her Time Credits at her favourite club, BackYard Comedy Club. This brought back many happy memories for her when she would take her family and children to the comedy club a few years ago. In the past, she was not able to treat them on a regular basis. She is excited to be able to go to the comedy club more regularly in the near future to treat her mum and family.
“They can all benefit from Time Credits!”