Growing Better Lives

The end of an era at Iver, and a new dawn in Slough

The Greencare group 31 May 2018

The Greencare group had it’s last therapy session last Thursday, and today was a bitter sweet day as we dismantled our beloved Yurt and transport it into storage whilst it awaits it’s new home. Some of our friends who love and who have spent time at the Yurt helped us and joined with us in a ceremony of handing over to Geoff who will be the custodian in the next stage of the Yurt and Greencare Group’s life.

With flowers in our hair (and Hil’s mouth) there was still time to be playful.

I (Hils) came to Greencare for my Psychiatric placement many years ago and never left. I value everything I have learned here, and the people I have connected with, they will be in my heart forever.

Greencare is a wonderful effective therapeutic practice that truly delivers the promise made in it’s mission statement,

Greencare is a holistic and economically viable alternative to treatment with medication and hospitalisation. Sustainability is about connecting people to each other and to nature, helping people to see that there is a life worth living, and on a planet that is worth living on.”


So much beauty and tranquility

While we gathered to enjoy lunch together, Susannah gave a blessing for all present.  The day was very emotional and very busy, and so we were not able to sit together to write this blog, however, the members emailed what they would like to say below:

I thought the ceremony was lovely, and the day was very sad but very special. I will miss you and Neil so much.” Pauline

A very sad day at the Yurt, today we walked into it for the last time as Greencare at Iver. Today we said a very sad farewell to the most amazing staff more like family and friends. A very hard sight going on in the background as the Yurt is brought down and shipped off for storage. I will always have such fond memories of this place and the family that shared it with me. The laughs the tears and the total respect from everyone. I always said it was like coming home, but today I left home. I wish everyone love luck and happiness for the future and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the Yurt and the Yurties. With a heavy heart I said a fond farewell to Nat our scarecrow as we dismantled him. We shared a last lunch of pizza and ice cream and we all comforted each other in our hour of need.

The ceremony to hand over the baton to Geoff was hard but heart felt, we left the ceremony with Geoff’s positivity ringing in our ears.” Sharon x

A lovely day last Thursday full of emotion and hope. It was great to see everyone. Not as much sadness ( lovely weather and lots of positive energy perhaps..?) as I had expected, but lots of hope for the future of the “Yurt” and all it stands for. I am so lucky to have been referred to Greencare.(thank you Daria) and after a life time of unaddressed mental health issues have finally found out what works. providing a safe and stress free environment to open up with people you can trust is worth it’s weight in gold. A big hug and thank you to all the professionals for their time and support. Here’s hoping for a speedy re-location of the Yurt and spread the “lurve” and positivity. Again a very big thank you to all……:)” Johnny

It was a heartbreaking day. Seeing the Yurt being dismantled, was too difficult for me to watch. The worst part of it all, was knowing, that we will no longer have you Hils, David & Neil. We will still get to see Vanessa & Rex. The legacy of Greencare, will be treasured & taken forward, with pride, commitment & development. I am hugely proud of our little Greencare family. We will continue to support each other, until a new site becomes available. Lynda X

Daylight through the roof

The bones of the Yurt with our shed in the background.

Getting to grips with the roof poles.

Furniture, canvas, felt and lining removed. Rex doing the last of his electrics.

The Crown of the Yurt

The following is an excerpt taken from Rex’s blog, (

Today was a big day. an ending and loss; and hope for a future of which we know few details.  We knew it was coming, and we were as well organised for it as a royal wedding – with a great deal of work, a good bit of ritual and a fantastic cake.
There were about twenty of us to do the day’s business – group members past and present, staff, ex-staff, peer mentors from Hope Recovery College, and – in the afternoon – out special visitors. Of which, more below.

The event marked the end of our time at Iver Environment Centre, and the dismantling of the yurt -and putting it into storage until Hope Recovery College (which is part of Slough Borough Council’s social programme for mental heath) finds a site to continue the Greencare work. And when it continues, it will be run by the recovery college, and its marvellous team of peer mentors – many of whom have been involved with the Greencare project over the last few years.

After an extraordinary effort to dismantle the yurt before the anticipated downpour, which was completed by early afternoon (including coffee and pizza breaks), we had the ceremonial ‘handing over’ at 3pm. And still no rain!

Introduced by music in ‘The Garden of Time’, members of the group and the staff enjoyed poems and moving testimonies before the formal business.

David made a moving speech, handing over the custodianship of Yurt to Geoff

One of four poles from the door section of the yurt was handed over to Geoff Dennis, the head of the Borough’s mental health services, and Hope Recovery College. A magnificent yurt-shaped cake – lemon and elderflower flavoured – was cut and enjoyed by all. Just like Harry and Meaghan’s, I was told.

Before the yurt is re-erected, the poles will be engraved with the mission statement of Growing Better Lives (in the right hand column of this blog).

So our dear yurt was packed away in a tiny cubicle of the yellow storage company – an extraordinarily alien environment – awaiting its release, and new home.

Watch this space to find out where it will be…” Rex

And two of the Readings from the ceremony:

Hils read the following to acknowledge all of the pain and joy that was experienced in the Yurt along with what we learned and how we grew as a result, and of the connection we felt for each other in the group.

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

John O’Donohue (To Bless The Space Between Us/Benedictus)

One of our friends, Hazel, who was helping dismantle the Yurt read the following blessing for the Greencare group and the Yurt in it’s eventual new home.


May this house shelter your life.
When you come in home here,
May all the weight of the world
Fall from your shoulders.

May your heart be tranquil here,
Blessed by peace the world cannot give.

May this home be a lucky place,
Where the graces your life desires
Always find the pathway to your door.

May nothing destructive
Ever cross your threshold.

May this be a safe place
Full of understanding and acceptance,
Where you can be as you are,
Without the need of any mask
Of pretence or image.

May this home be a place of discovery,
Where the possibilities that sleep
In the clay of your soul can emerge
To deepen and refine your vision
For all that is yet to come to birth.

May it be a house of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is ever lost.

Through the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be a great delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.

May you have the eyes to see
That no visitor arrives without a gift
And no guest leaves without a blessing.

John O’Donohue (To Bless The Space Between Us/Benedictus)

Hazel was also moved to write this piece on her experience of the Yurt:

The Yurt Reveals It’s shadow
A reflection on dismantling the Yurt – 31 May 2018

We took away all that was good
And left behind all that needed to stay.

We took the roof, the walls, the stove, the lights and the treasures,
We left the base and all that had been hidden below.
And yet, both were the Yurt’s story;
Both were held in that precious space –
Like Yin and Yang,
Ego and shadow.

As the Yurt was dismantled, all was revealed:
A rotting floor;
A thousand sharp nails piecing
Hard wood foundations;
A nest of bees;
Three dead rats
Each flattened to two dimensions;

A network of cobwebs;
A multitude
Of crawling creatures;
Crumbling leaves;
This was the Yurt’s shadow – deep, dark, hidden;

But, on reflection:

The floor had held us up;
The bees had not stung;
The rats had not bitten;
The nails had withheld their sharpness;
The cobwebs and leaves had insulated us from the cool earth below.
The creatures had witnessed our stories –
The crying, the laughter, the pain, the healing.
In every moment of our presence
The earth had connected us
to our ancestors
and our place in the universe.

The Yurt embraced it;s own shadow.
On this special day,
Its darkness came into the light

the Yurt knows our shadows.
It embraces them and holds them
Whilst Love gently frees them to the light.

Hazel Hickson, 31 May 2018

Go well, Greencare Group Yurt