Volunteering at Rainham Hall – two perspectives

Posted on the 13th March 2019

Jesse Lock, Community Gardener

We have a volunteer, Brigitte, who comes to Rainham Hall on Thursdays with her very young daughter to help out in the garden.

This came about when Brigitte approached me one day on her visit here and asked about doing half an hour of volunteering here whenever her three-month old baby would let her.

The following week she returned with her daughter. I gave her a pair of secateurs and she got to work.

Through talking more with her I discovered Brigitte has a background in fashion and I thought she could utilise her skills by helping to weave the willow tunnels that had been planted.

The willow weaving, and in particular the willow tunnel, has been greatly improved by the addition of someone with an aptitude for design. Her transferable skills have really helped provide shape and structure to the tunnels, as well as some lovely finishing touches.

Her helping out in the garden like this is a great example of flexible, community-based volunteering. Brigette now comes along most Thursdays for as long as her baby will sleep and adds a little to the garden every time.



Brigitte Antal, Volunteer

The people at Rainham Hall have been very encouraging and supportive of my interest in volunteering in the garden. I’m very flattered by the great feedback Annarose and I are getting for our minute contribution. In the grand scheme of things, and compared to all the hard graft everybody else is putting in, it’s really not much.

I think my example proves the point that literally everyone is able to contribute to the wellbeing of a community if they set out to do so.

From a personal perspective, it's also something I wanted to prove to myself: having a child will not stop me, but help me do more.

As a new mother it’s very important not to feel isolated and to have a sense of belonging for both oneself, and the child, in terms of their future. The warm welcome we had at Rainham Hall was a great start for us and I hope many other mothers can have a similar experience close to where they live.

People around here refer to Rainham Hall Gardens as the ‘Secret Garden’ and I agree. Once you pass through the gate you are in a different dimension, away from the hustle and bustle of the high street, in this timeless space where nature keeps you company.

I think it’s very important to make sure that these getaways exist and remain, to draw likeminded people closer.

We are grateful to Jesse and the team for facilitating this great experience, by letting us volunteer and do what we can, when we can, in such an informal way.

People make places.

Brigitte Antal

New mum Brigitte found that volunteering in her community helped her meet new people and pursue her interests.

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