In this blog titled Perennial-Help in The Hard times, we interview Phil Swainston , Phil tells us a bit about how Perennial are there to help for those in the TurfCare and Horticultural industries.
Q- Can you please tell us who you are and a bit about Perennial
I am Corporate Partnership manager at Perennial and my role primarily is to engage and build strong relationships with key manufacturers and suppliers to the Horticultural industry for mutual benefit.
Perennial was founded in 1839 to help retired gardeners who were made homeless with no pensions when they retired from working on country estates. We now aim to support all those employed in horticulture and landscaping from anyone who makes or looks after gardens, parks, sports grounds, woodlands and other green spaces though their working lives and into retirement. Volunteers are unfortunately only eligible for help if they are employed in a horticultural role.
Perennial is the only true horticultural charity. We understand the personal challenges and financial pressures that people working in horticulture, arboriculture or forestry face. We offer practical and personal support through either home visits or simply by being at the other end of the telephone.
We help around 1,500 people and their families every year with many experiencing a life-changing event, such as serious injury, long-term illness, losing a family member, redundancy or other problems at home. Others simply can’t afford to live on their regular wage and feel they have no choice but to borrow money to make ends meet.
We can help and support whatever the problem and for as long as people need us. One of our key challenges is that currently there are people in this industry who are not getting our support simply because they don’t know about us.
We believe that no one in horticulture should be denied our help simply because they are not aware of our existence. Our vision therefore is that everyone in horticulture in the UK will be aware of Perennial, will understand what help they can receive from us and will be confident to get in touch should they need our help.
We are also moving towards a time when Perennial operates a range of prevention strategies that train and equip people in the industry to achieve success in their careers and personal lives, improving their quality of life and reducing the demand for our help.
Q- Can you talk us through the benefits you offer to the community?
Perennial’s help extends to groundsmen, grounds maintenance staff, green keepers, landscapers, gardeners, garden designers, tree surgeons, British seed and turf growers, those involved in intensive production horticulture, parks and gardens staff and many, many more. The financial and social pressures on those working in and retired from horticulture are acute, particularly in the current pandemic, as horticulture professions are still relatively low paid and with much of the work being physically gruelling.
Perennial is a ‘lifeline’ for many, providing free and confidential advice and financial assistance to over 1,600 people every year.
Managing money is important as it helps us all to understand how much money we need for important bills, helps us save towards the things we want and will help to keep us out of debt. Anyone can have money worries, at any point in their life, for whatever reason. If you’re finding it difficult to meet your daily living costs, or struggling to meet repayments on debts, Perennial can help.
Even if you don’t currently have money worries, it is worth reviewing your financial situation to help you become more able to cope with emergencies and to plan for the future. Spending an hour or two to review your finances can make a huge difference.
Follow Perennial’s top tips, or use Perennial’s on-line BUDGETING TOOL and start taking back control of your finances.
If anybody needs help, our team of debt and money advisers can work with you to manage your money. This could be anything from helping you to budget, to more complicated situations such as multiple debts. Perennial will review your situation, advise on all the options available and then work to put your chosen option into place.
Perennial can offer advice, information and support to those working in horticulture and have many services that can support you. Perennial can support you through many of life challenges. If you are worried about paying your bills, have health, housing, benefit or employment issues Perennial can help with any issue you may be facing, however complicated. If you’re finding it difficult to manage financially because of an unexpected event Perennial’s team can assess what financial support may be available to you and help you understand the options available to you.
If your income has stopped or reduced Perennial can offer short term support towards daily living costs, including food, heating and clothing. They can also offer help through a period of illness, such as helping with the additional costs of travelling to hospitals and treatment appointments or for families who have experienced a recent bereavement. Perennial’s financial help is intended to complement welfare benefits and we can support you to understand and apply for any statutory support available to you.
Free legal advice
Perennial knows that to create better futures for people in horticulture and their families they often need access to specialist legal support. The coronavirus is leading to more uncertainty and change for many working within horticulture. Unless you’re an expert in law it can be difficult to understand your rights and where you stand. You may be concerned about a tenancy issue, need some help to exercise your consumer rights, practical advice on setting up a will or guidance through the legal aspects of a relationship breakdown.
Getting a helping hand with some legal advice can be a huge benefit across many areas of life and doing so can prevent issues from arising in the future.
Perennial have partnered with Irwin Mitchell solicitors who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Code of Conduct. They have legal experts available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support the horticultural community with their extensive knowledge across all areas of law. If you need legal support, please call the Perennial helpline where Perennial’s team will be ready to help you or refer you to the legal helpline.
The challenges and pressures facing those in horticulture are very real. Research shows that one in four people working in or retired from horticulture are likely to experience mental health problems. Perennial understands the impact poor mental wellbeing can have on lives and the ripple effect is often felt by family and friends for years to come. When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information is vital.
Perennial has an online mental wellbeing community page where you can find out more about getting support during these times. However, if things which wouldn’t normally worry you are feeling overwhelming then it’s time to act now. If these feelings are affecting your everyday life or relationships then it’s important that you speak to your GP. Perennial can help you with many stressful events, such as ill health, accident, bereavement, redundancy and money worries, but we are not a specialist mental health service.
If you do find yourself in a crisis or emergency situation you will need to access specialist support and Perennial can quickly signpost you to who to contact in a crisis.
Growing knowledge, skills and education can change lives. Perennial aims to help equip people working in horticulture with the tools to enhance careers, increase chances of success and to create better futures. Whatever aspect of horticulture you work in, there will be a variety of learning experiences to suit your aspirations. Learning is very rewarding, and qualifications can add prestige to your skills and the service you provide.
Employees and customers will recognise the dedication put into learning your trade and the results will speak for themselves. Perennial believes learning can benefit you and the industry as a whole by producing knowledgeable, skilled and happy horticulturists.
Q- is there any costs to your services?
Perennial provides free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture. This help extends to spouses, partners and children.
Q- is there a way we can give back to Perennial in support of your good work?
The more financial support we receive the more services we can offer and the more people working within horticulture we can help. Our Perennial Partnership scheme exists to enable organisations to give a regular annual donation enabling us to invest in new ‘prevent’ services and in expert staff to maintain the high level of service we provide.
By signing up as a Perennial Partner you will receive our help to promote Perennial to your workforce enabling you to demonstrate your commitment to their welfare. Your support is vital given the loss of income we have experienced through the cancellation of all our events this year and the huge increase in calls our Services Dept has had to field during the current crisis. We anticipate the increase in calls for help will only continue as we move through 2021 when the real consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic and lockdowns will start to bite.
We’re also challenging those working in the industry to get creative and run your own fundraising event or sign up to a Challenge Event to raise money for our Hortaid-21 appeal.
Phil on behalf of Perennial.