Thursday, 31 May 2018

The End of an Era: Greencare moves on

Today was a big day. an ending and loss; and hope for a future of which we know few details.  We knew it was coming, and we were as well organised for it as a royal wedding - with a great deal of work, a good bit of ritual and a fantastic cake.

Here's a video snip of my last walk to the yurt:



There were about twenty of us to do the day's business - group members past and present, staff, ex-staff, peer mentors from Hope Recovery College, and - in the afternoon - out special visitors. Of which, more below.

The event marked the end of our time at Iver Environment Centre, and the dismantling of the yurt -and putting it into storage until Hope Recovery College (which is part of Slough Borough Council's social programme for mental heath) finds a site to continue the Greencare work. And when it continues, it will be run by the recovery college, and its marvellous team of peer mentors - many of whom have been involved with the Greencare project over the last few years.

We have been unable to stay at Iver for several reasons - some of which are sad, and some of which point to a new hope for the future.

The sad ones include the way we have found it increasingly difficult, particularly over the last year or so, to fit with the corporate vision of National Grid, who are the owners of the land. They are moving towards an increasingly commercial use of the site - with little scope or space for small and somewhat unusual social enterprises like us, run and staffed by committed and passionate volunteers.

In some ways, it has never been an ideal site - several miles out of town, across the county boundary, and accessible by public transport only by a slow and circuitous bus journey. But the new hope comes from what we have built together over the last seven years there - the passion and dedication of everybody involved in the group, both members and staff - and the group dynamic methods we have developed by co-creation. The plans mean that the responsibility for, and ownership of, the yurt and greencare project now pass from the directors of Growing Better Lives (who will no longer be involved in the groups) to the peer mentors and staff of Hope Recovery College.

Once a new site is found for the yurt, it will allow a blossoming of the work to include many others who can benefit from its unique therapeutic qualities - in easy reach of town, but with all benefits and joys or working as we have all learned to do. That is our sincere hope, and we know it is shared by those who have leadership roles in Hope Recovery College.

After an extraordinary effort to dismantle the yurt before the anticipated downpour, which was completed by early afternoon (including coffee and pizza breaks), we had the ceremonial 'handing over' at 3pm. And still no rain.
The ceremonial handing over of the yurt

Introduced by music in 'The Garden of Time', members of the group and the staff enjoyed poems and moving testimonies before the formal business. One of four poles from the door section of the yurt was handed over to Geoff Dennis, the head of the Borough's mental health services, and Hope Recovery College. A magnificent yurt-shaped cake - lemon and elderflower flavoured - was cut and enjoyed by all. Just like Harry and Meaghan's, I was told.

Before the yurt is re-erected, the poles will be engraved with the mission statement of Growing Better Lives (in the right hand column of this blog).

So our dear yurt was packed away in a tiny cubicle of the yellow storage company - an extraordinarily alien environment - awaiting its release, and new home.

Watch this space to find out where it will be...

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