Keppie at River Garden Auchincruive

Written by
Janine Croft
Listed in
Posted on
13th Sep 2023

On Friday 8th September we took the whole team across to River Garden Auchincruive to spend the day volunteering with the residents and staff.

River Garden Auchincruive helps people to leave behind their drug and alcohol addiction through a model of recovery that’s different to the norm. Residents are given much needed time to reflect on their lives and to grow and flourish. They are given the means to do so through the communal support of their peers and their participation in on-site social enterprises (growing and selling plants and produce, the woodwork shop and the Bothy Café). During the three years that they are resident, they become key partners in a model of social entrepreneurship, education, rehabilitation, and the opportunity for transformative lifestyle change. The active and full participation of all residents is essential for their own recovery journey. This commitment contributes to the economic sustainability of the Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland (IFDAS) charity and the entire social enterprise that is River Garden Auchincruive.

River Garden Auchincruive exists to give people the chance to turn their lives around, recognising their creative talents and growing their skills so that their lives can have meaning and purpose. This mission is made so much more urgent in the context of the shockingly high year-on-year increases in drug and alcohol deaths in Scotland. Our country continues to have the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe, and a rate more than three times that of England and Wales. Alcohol-specific deaths also continue to rise at an alarming rate in Scotland, increasing 17% in 2020 from 2019, and the highest number registered since 2008.

And so, to our day spent in this beautiful and inspiring part of Ayrshire…

In the morning, we met up with Franky, one of the residents who has recently celebrated his first year sober (congratulations Franky!). He told us his story, showed us the ropes, and helped us to get stuck into the tasks at hand.

After a hearty breakfast (provided by the staff and residents working in River Garden’s Bothy Café), we split into three groups. One group was tasked with clearing out an old pond to get it ready for use, one with weeding and tidying up the beautiful Secret Garden, and the third with planting some flowers and shrubs in the rockery. These were no simple tasks in the 27-degree heat for a bunch more accustomed to sitting at desks with the air conditioning on!

Following us breaking a good sweat, we were treated to a delicious lunch, again provided by the residents and staff at the Bothy Café. We then went back to work to complete the tasks we began in the morning.

In the afternoon we were treated to a wellbeing session, which included a short yoga class and sound bath in the beautiful gardens (in the shade of course). This was the perfect way to wind down after a day of hard graft. It also gave us an insight into the variety of wellbeing activities available for the residents.

To finish up, we were led to the Bothy Café, to be met with a beautiful table of fresh produce for us to help ourselves to, including melons, apples, pears, parsnips, peppers, and leeks. We were then given a choice of delicious homemade cakes and coffees, whilst we chatted with the residents, staff and trustees.

Franky also had some certificates of achievement to give out:

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all at River Garden Auchincruive for welcoming us in, showing us the ropes and helping us get better informed about rehabilitation and the recovery journey!

River Garden Auchincruive relies heavily on donations to be able to continue transforming the lives of those in recovery from addition. To find out more about the incredible innovative work being done at RGA – and to find out how you can help – please check the link below: