Claire Collins, Bereavement Coordinator, Marie Curie tells us how the National Garden Scheme bursary funding is making a difference:
‘I live in a flat and don’t have my own garden, so I grow things in pots in our communal gardens – I think that it’s important, whatever space you have, to grow something, my desk at work speaks to that. To plant a plant, nurture it and watch it grow is beautiful. My husband and I always buy the rescue plants, the ones that look rather bedraggled in the garden centre. They give you back so much more!
‘I love visiting gardens and I am struck by how unique Marie Curie’s partnership with the National Garden Scheme is. Thousands of generous garden owners share their amazing gardens with the public to raise money for charity – and Marie Curie has received £8.8 million to date, so we can help people living with terminal illness, and their families.
‘I have seen first-hand the hard work that goes into a National Garden Scheme open day – and I have also witnessed how these funds are used. I am a bereavement coordinator at Marie Curie’s Hampstead hospice and I’m also one of the first lucky recipients of the National Garden Scheme Bursary Fund. Part of this money raised at open gardens helps pay for Marie Curie nurses and other clinical staff at the charity to undertake post-registered qualifications or specialist university modules in end of life care – and I’m currently doing a 2 year post graduate diploma in counselling and psychotherapy. I’m completing research on working with people with learning disabilities – a group who are often marginalised and remain invisible in the support being offered. It is hard work continuing to work full time whilst studying, but incredibly rewarding to know that my research will help create change for the better. My research will look at best practice, literature that is being produced and the adjustments that need to be made to ensure Marie Curie services are appropriate, inclusive and accessible.
‘I have not always been a bereavement counsellor. I started my career in banking but the death of a friend in 2004, who was only 35-years-old, set me off on a different path. My friend left behind a daughter, aged 10, and I was struck by the similarity to my own experience. My father died at the age of 35 when I was 10, and I had never addressed my own loss. I have not looked back since.
‘The work of Marie Curie is so important – the support and care we offer not just to the patients, but their whole families, is exceptional. I am proud to be part of that, and I’m proud to be studying to further my practice – all because of the National Garden Scheme.’
Claire Collins, Bereavement Coordinator, Marie Curie