A Black Rose symbolises: Devotion and Solidarity.
(The Black Rose)  

The reasons I volunteer in charity work, is because I feel its better to be actively ‘productive’ in life that gives me a strong sense of purpose for it brings me outside of myself, to connect with the wider community in a profound way, that is, although self-centred in a good way, by this action of charity, it embodies the human spirit also, therein by giving something back is a selfless act, that shows the gratitude of helping a person/cause/nature. It provides a spiritual boost as well, and the experience is a positive one overall. For it brings hope and happiness to people, but it also leads to spiritual and emotional growth for all concerned.

For in volunteering and charity work, it is an experience that cannot be brought with any amount of money, nor used as a passage into Heaven, that is, as a wrong can’t be righted and vice versa, in the use of charity work as a means of escaping one’s Karma. Although charity work is a means of showing and connecting with the human spirit within a person, as a reminder that you may have entered into this life involuntary and you will eventually part with this life and die someday, everybody does, regardless of who they are. However whilst on Earth, in the meantime, it conveys that you’re willing to make the best of it along with others — humility — and in Hell that is a quality that is so badly needed, that is, in that there’s a greater good that can be applied to them too, and all is not lost to paradise. And in my lifetime, even that of my self-promotion has an endeavour that duly means something to others rather than just towards myself, and by the time of my life being at an end here on Earth, I would still probably go to Hell (without committing a crime) out of my own choice, for they in Hell do need me moreso, unlike Heaven (but I’ll visit occasionally when I’m not too busy sorting out Hell, hard work yes, but you gotta start somewhere…), and so in doing charity work that is my motive.

Thus, as I have mentioned my other charity work undertaken by me personally, which were still very important to me even though they were one-off occurances in my past, which can be viewed on my mavarine.com website: ‘Volunteer Work’ when I’ve been asked to participate my time to assisting in the social cause, whether local or international, to bring awareness and/or to help others in need at that time.

For in addition, I also support various charities thorough this student blog site of mine, and the website links to their pages can be seen on the right-hand menu toolbar (which is under the ‘Domestic Goddess’ section image). For even though I’m out of paid work, and on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) at the moment, and therefore I can’t make monetary donations, I still feel able by doing this small gesture, that I helping in making others aware of the charities work. And just so that things are clear for those people whom are ignorant of certain facts. I still pay my taxes on this JSA benefit, that is, it is not freely given as a hand-out (evidence as seen below for the tax year 2011: although certain parts are blackened out due to legal reasons) so nor am I lazy or work-shy for receiving JSA as a government benefit, even when I’m doing volunteering in the meantime, and still actively seeking paid employment, that is along with its payable taxes too, hopefully in the future:


However, the two organisations listed below are the present ones, that I’m actively hands-on with helping in their aims and objectives in the wider community, and for me its part of a long-term commitment (at the weekends mainly, but also attending the evening Committee meetings too) in offering my time freely (unpaid) and my expertise (qualified and experienced), plus getting to meet some wonderful people along the way whilst doing my job that I’ve been assigned to do for them.


At FOBP (Friends of Belair Park) as a volunteer with this charity, I am the Secretary and therefore responsible for the members of this friendly society, with the role of updating the email list, and chas ing up failed connections. And of course, using my garden design skills for the benefit of the community which is documented here in their current Newsletter 16th July 2011: https://mdm35.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/16-july-11-20111.pdf

Friends of Belair Park in Dulwich, South London, is a non-profit organisation; striving to protect, promote, and enhance wildlife, landscape, & heritage at Belair Park for the benefit of all. The current Chair is Dr Martin Heath.

Belair Park is Southwark’s only Grade II* listed landscape. There are also listed structures within the park -these include the park lodge, entrance gate and an old stable building.

Belair (the house/mansion) was built in 1785 in the style of, or possibly by, the architect Robert Adam. Its grounds included an artificial lake made by damming the River Effra.

The house was damaged in World War II and was later taken over by Southwark Council, which renovated it – for a time it was used for the community for sports changing facilities, a dance/ballet hall, toilets and classes. It is now used as an upmarket restaurant.

Belair Park is home to numerous wildlife species of animals and plants – including water birds, bats (which can be seen at dusk in the summer feeding over the lake). There are willow trees and alder growing around the lake, and some beautiful mature oak trees elsewhere in the Park.

Along the lake-side there is a wildlife area, maintained by the Friends – that was established by Martin Heath, which contains native bankside wildflowers (including ragged robin, sedges, and irises) and has log-piles and small ditches to provide habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.

Raft ‘bird islands’ has been built in the lake itself to provide protected areas for waterfowl to nest.

New Leaf: The West Dulwich Project 

“Path of Natural Knowledge”

At NL (new-leaf.org.uk) I have worked as a volunteer since 2011, I hold the position of Bookshop Assistant. I sort out the stock of books that are to be sold as second-hand to customers in support of the charity organisation in their retail store.

In 2006, the plant historian and professional gardener, Vinnie O’Connell, who also worked at Kew Gardens, the Chelsea Physic Garden and Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, set up the ‘New Leaf’ charity. The aim of the project is about working to encourage an understanding of nature, on the basis that if we understand nature, we will care for it more so in modern times.

And also the wall mural (see picture on the left), that can be found behind the New Leaf bookshop, but also seen as one leaves the Platform 2 walk-way of the West Dulwich Train Station, was painted by a local artist, Marlon Brown. And the bookshop exterior back wall is decorated with paintings of Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Karl Linnaeus, Rosalind Franklin and some of the other heroes in the discovery and understanding of Earth and its billions of life forms.

And educationally, how this is achieved is by providing opportunities to learn about the plant and insect life in the surrounding area and giving a chance to young people to do volunteer work and at the same time as learning gardening skills.

Most excitingly, New Leaf is creating from scratch on the banks of either side of West Dulwich Train Station, a timeline of the history of plants; Phylogeny, which is the story of the evolution of plants, as an educational resource for everyone to be aware that plants do and did more than just look pretty! As to walk the platform is going to be like a step back in time. Time travel at its best!!

And so the Phylogeny garden, will be done in a unique design for everyone to benefit from, as in the very young, that is as an educational program, but also for adults to simply enjoy too. As the project will be linked to primary schools as part of their curriculum, for the vision is to build the Phylogeny garden as a teaching resource for the 4 local boroughs (Brixton, Lewisham, Peckham and Bromley) to come along with groups of school children in year 6 and use the ‘New Leaf’ Phylogeny site, in conjunction with Belair Park, as a means of introducing children to the environment.

In addition, the project works with the Southwark young offenders Services whom provide gardening and environmental projects for them to learn gardening skills and hopefully develop new interests in the conservation of nature.

Lambeth Horticultural Society 

The LHS (Lambeth Horticultural Society.org.uk) was established in 1951 and the organisations long-standing Chairman has been Tony Pizzoferro, a RHS qualified gardener. 

The Society’s objective is the promotion of horticulture by holding meetings for lectures, discussions and demonstrations. It has horticultural shows and competitions for both the young and old, and established as well as those new to gardening to participate in trying for a medal or trophy cup. Assisting the Council from which the society takes its name in matters of horticulture. And encouraging an association of all horticultural, garden and allotment societies within the London Borough of Lambeth.

As a volunteer since 2008, I hold the position of Librarian at the LHS. I created a book listing database, and manage the cataloguing of all resources on horticulture and promoting to members the services on offer at the Hut where the library is located in West Norwood.

I am also a member of the society’s Management Committee, that oversees the running of the LHS on behalf of its members. And I attend once a month in the evening to participate in any of the decisions that pertain to the effective management of the LHS.

In 2010 I also had cash register duty and assisted with gardening enquiries when necessary, for members that come into the trading shop of the society. This involved making sure that the money collected has been allocated to the right department section, such as for example the bedding and plants, donations, tools and subsidiaries, for ease of book-keeping and balancing the account book from the till roll at the end of the trading period.

In 2009, I was the designated Judge of the Floral Art – Section E at the Lambeth Country Show that is held each year at Brockwell Park in Norwood, South London.

I have published in the LHS Newsletters articles since Spring 2008 until to date with a column on ‘Insights From A Gardening Book’ which had the objective of not only entertaining the members of the LHS, but also giving them information regarding the books held at the LHS Library.

I was also in 2008 the Publicity Officer for the society and had successfully achieved a programme of promotion that was London wide and also on the internet, for example a newspaper article in the South London Press regarding the competition at the London Country Show 2008.

In 2008, I was also the representative for Lambeth Horticultural Society to the St. Luke’s Memorial Garden Steering Group. The Steering Group, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Norwood Action Group (NAG), has been in charge of seeing the St.Luke’s Memorial Garden works programme through all its stages.


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