For the past two years, Michael has volunteered for the Quarr Abbey gardening project on the Isle of Wight.
The Quarr Abbey gardening project is run by the Group’s Care and Supporting Independence (CASI) team, who provide specialist accommodation and support services to Group customers on the Isle of Wight.
The resident-led project offers a way for Group customers to gain skills in a social setting that benefits the community, with residents responsible for growing and selling their own fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
“Volunteering has made me feel wanted and accepted and has given me a purpose to get up and go out,” says Michael. “I’ve made so many new friends and it has really opened up my social life.”
Elaine Sheldrake, Day Activities Coordinator for Southern Housing Group, recalls: “When Michael first joined the project, he rarely left his home and had significant issues traveling on public transport. Since then, he has come on in leaps and bounds. He is much more confident, generally less anxious, and really enjoys all aspects of his role.”
The CASI team started supporting Michael in 2009, helping him maintain his tenancy and develop daily living skills. He is now in a position to live more independently and is involved with various CASI projects, groups, and events. He is a committed and valued member of the Quarr Abbey group, and was the recipient of the Personal Achievement Award at the 2015 CASI Supported Involvement Day. He is also a keen member of the Supported Customer Forum for which he is the official correspondent for the Quarr Abbey project.
Thanks to his volunteering work, Michael has made many new friends and is driving again.
He reveals: “I feel as if my life has been transformed by volunteering, and I wish I’d discovered it years ago.”
When asked about the future, his attitude is: “Bring it on!”