Dawn Parker, from South Wales, fell out of love with her office job and started to re-evaluate what made her happy in life.
Keen to get involved with a local initiative, Dawn started volunteering at Meadow Street Community Garden, owned by Pontypridd Town Council.
She soon took a shine to the great outdoors and found gardening to be a really rewarding process, which benefitted her mental health.
Dawn said: “Gardening really helped me with anxiety and depression, after suffering through Covid. This feeling ricocheted and really benefitted my family and home life too.”
Dawn was soon offered a role as Volunteer Co-ordinator, helping to develop the garden into a space for the local community to learn new skills and build connections to support their own wellbeing.
She said: “I feel reconnected with the community and wanting a fresh start has opened so many doors for me.”
After making the decision to leave her office job, Dawn sought help to pursue a long-held dream of running her own business.
PRIME Cymru supported Dawn to achieve a certificate in Food Hygiene and matched her with business mentor, Julie Grabham, who helped to build her confidence.
With Julie’s support, Dawn is now developing her business as a Social Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioner, specialising in using gardening to create social connections and improve wellbeing.
Dawn said: “Julie has such a motivating, positive and can-do attitude. I used to be like that and I lost it – but now I’ve got it back!
“It’s been a real adventure and I’m so grateful to Julie!”
Julie said: “When I first met Dawn it was clear to me that she had a huge knowledge and passion for what she did, but she was feeling overwhelmed and lost on how she would achieve her goals.
“With my support, Dawn implemented structure to her days, with short timescales to achieve tasks and made clear plans with focus. Over the months Dawn started to see her value and it was like watching a light being switched on as she reflected on her achievements and successes since we first met.”
Dawn has now been asked to deliver sessions at an adult education centre and hopes to offer tabletop gardening to elderly people in residential homes, in the near future.