I had been married for nineteen years, and with all such relationships we had a division of labour; I did the cooking, cleaning, picking the kids up from school, my wife took care of the bills. I’m dyslexic you see and I’d always struggled with reading the letters of the bills. Little did I realise that all this was abut to change, in a drastic manner.
My marriage broke up, initially I was in a desperate state and felt unable to cope, so much so it lead me to taking an overdose. I was a mess. It was the doctor who suggested that I come here, as I’d always had an interest in gardening. I like gardening.
When I first arrived here it was with all the troubles of the world. I was so consumed with all my own issues. It was seeing others, with disabilities, with difficult lives far beyond what I had to deal with, that began to influence me. They taught me patience, to laugh, to make me see life better. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s hard, but I’m a grafter and I carry on. Others have noticed too, my daughter has noticed. The other day there was an incident and my daughter said “a few years back you’d have blown up at that, now you’re patient.” I couldn’t be more pleased.
I’ve picked up new skills here too, such as when pruning fruit trees; previously I’d have thrown the cuttings away, now I plant them. I’ve used what I’ve learned in the garden for the sheltered accommodation, for frail neighbours. I’ve gained my independence again, I can handle the bills now, I can handle all of the things I used to be afraid to deal with.
John is a 69 year old who, during the last six to seven years, has been a regular volunteer at Pennine Lancashire Community Farm.