Joshua meets with God in the garden.
"I was in a lot of distress. I was hearing voices. I was diagnosed with a mental health condition, paranoid schizophrenia. I was told that Jesus could help me by people on the street with tracts. So I decided to give Jesus a try.
I saw the garden. I wanted to pray here. I prayed under this yew tree. It was such a nice place. I felt God’s spirit was here. I saw Marion and she came over to me. She told me I could volunteer here on a Tuesday. Since then I have been volunteering.
I get peace here. I feel God’s spirit. I come here when there’s no work. We are a family doing this together. I live on my own. I have a cat. She keeps me company. But community is important. When I come on the work days I feel happy. The tea always tastes better here. That’s how I feel.
I’ve got a deep faith in God now and I feel like gardening is spiritual. I like being in nature. It gets me away from the traffic and the roads and people and betting shops and all of that. It’s helping with the anxiety and the voices. Having the voices isolates me. I can stay in the house all the day, especially because I don’t have a job. I’m on sick pay, so this helps me to give back to the community. It helps me to feel fulfilled. It feels like how life should be with people, people that love you and want to see how you are and ask questions. It means I’m not in my house by myself. It’s nice to get human interaction. It’s a nice place.
I’ve learned so much about plants and how to look after a garden and it teaches me about life. This flower bed used to be a piece of land. We removed the turf. I didn’t want to do it, but we kept on doing it until it was done. It was such hard labour and now there are beautiful flowers. It taught me that I have to work hard for reward and to learn from nature."
- Joshua Sarpong
Inspired by the Psalm 23 Garden, an inner-city area that was once used by drug and alcohol users has been transformed into a therapeutic garden. St Mary’s Lewisham Garden is now a place for all, including those in recovery from mental health problems.