My week: Susan Stuart

The garden manager at the Thrive Battersea Garden Project wrestles with a business plan.

Susan Stuart
Susan Stuart

Monday: I'm awake at 6am and immediately update my 'to do' list. With the redevelopment of our Battersea Garden Project, two major new programmes and my 2008/09 business plan to finish, list updating is a daily ritual. The week starts with our team meeting, which is kept informal to encourage dialogue. Afterwards, I meet a potential funder for Pathways, a supported volunteering programme for people with mild mental health issues. It's been difficult to find funding, but on this occasion the funder says that the proposal will go through to its funding committee. Result.

Tuesday: Our 'office', a converted tennis hut, is crowded and hectic. I need quiet to finesse the business plan, so I spend the morning working from home. Having previously worked in the City, I struggle with a lot of the sector's language. I spend the afternoon interviewing candidates for a campaign manager who will promote Thrive Battersea throughout its renovation.

Wednesday: The architects spend their first day at the project, and it's crucial we make the most of it. The more they understand about Thrive, the better the outcome of the redevelopment will be. I'm glad to see them spend lots of time talking with the gardeners. Disabled people often lack the opportunity to be heard and to influence their own futures, so I really want the disabled people who come here to feel they're a part of this redevelopment.

Thursday: I keep at least one day each week clear to spend time with the gardeners. It helps me understand what Thrive means to them and their lives. One man, who has lived for a decade with depression, tells me how gardening has helped him regain the self-confidence to tackle his isolation and engage with people again. I spend the afternoon with Wandsworth's chief parks officer and we talk about Working it Out - a work shadowing scheme equipping unemployed disabled people with the skills needed in London's parks. It's a big deal for both of us and we're determined to get it right.

Friday: I'm lucky to work in the middle of a park - it's a glorious morning. I wrestle with the business plan, but by lunchtime I am still no nearer a budget. The week ends well - the shopping channel QVC agrees to support us by sponsoring a garden design competition for the redevelopment. At home, I spend a few minutes gardening in the twilight. As the garden takes over, the ever-present 'to do' list fades away.

- Thrive uses gardening to change the lives of people with physical disabilities and mental health problems.

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