Greg Stevenson and Robert Forsythe
1 June 2018
Quarriers East Dunbartonshire Phase 2 Service provides supported accommodation to adults with learning and physical disabilities. Greg Stevenson, Volunteer Gardener, and Robert Forsythe, Volunteer Befriender, both spend time with Ally, who is supported by the service.
What Greg had to say;
My role is to visit Ally once a week for a couple of hours and help him grow and care for fruit and vegetable plants in his back garden. Ally has apple trees, and grows fruit including raspberries, blackberries and rhubarb.
Ally also has raised beds which provide space to grow a variety of vegetables including potatoes, brussels, sprouts, cauliflower, and onions. I try to grow as much as I can from seed at home, then bring small plants that Ally can plant himself with a little bit of guidance from myself. Ally has sown carrots and beetroot from seed, and these have been quite successful.
The support staff and I help Ally to harvest any crops which are successful and the support staff will help with storing and cooking them. Ally and I care for all the fruit plants and trees over winter and I plan ahead so the plants we want to grow have a better chance of success.
I see a positive difference in Ally from growing and caring for fruit and vegetables. At first it was the harvesting of crops that most interested him, but he now understands that caring for his plants must be done all the time. We water and feed the plants together, and Ally and I will walk around the garden and blether.
I had an interest in gardening before I began volunteering with Quarriers, but I never grew fruit or vegetables. Volunteering with Ali has influenced what I grow at home, as I now grow fruit and vegetables in my own garden and the local community garden.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone because you can learn something new and use skills you already have to benefit someone else. But mainly because it is fun and you meet interesting people.
What Robert had to say;
I’m a self-employed painter and decorator, and I have a busy family life but I wanted to try and help others too.
I’ve been a befriender with Quarriers for almost six years now. I spend a few hours on a Saturday morning with Ally when we go for coffee and maybe a game of snooker. Other activities are decided on the day and we may alternate between a visit to the local golf range or ten pin bowling.
Ally loves Christmas, he truly does wish it could be Christmas every day! Ally likes to go to the Christmas Eve service in the local church, and we have enjoyed this together over the past few years.
Ally is very outgoing and his sense of humour inspires other people to lighten up and be more outgoing too. When I started befriending with Quarriers I thought I could do it to help people, but I didn’t know that I would gain so much more than I gave: I have a better attitude towards others, I’ve gained new skills and I am more confident in my approach to life’s challenges. Thanks to my pal Ally.
What the service says
“Robert is my wee pal,” says Ally. “We play snooker every Saturday, and I win, I’m the champion. Then we get my paper and a coffee. I look forward to this every week. Robert always takes me to the church Christmas Eve service where we have a mince pie. We have a good laugh.
“Greg comes on a Sunday to help me with my garden. We plant seeds and with my support team we grow loads of vegetables, apples and strawberries.”
“The role of the befriender is a vital service for our clients to support their community inclusion and individuality,” says Roberta, Acting Team Leader. “Ally in particular thrives on the support from Greg and Robert, and it’s lovely for him to have this time with them. I’m sure many more people we support would benefit from a befriender.”