He describes the help he and his family have received as ‘invaluable’ and believes the industry can do more to raise awareness of the support services Perennial provides.
“I’ve worked in horticulture for over 30 years, as a garden centre manager and self-employed gardener. I have also worked as a broadcaster on local BBC radio stations. I was aware of Perennial through my work on radio gardening programmes but never dreamed I would need their services or help. I was doing fairly well, was in steady work, and couldn’t imagine a time I would need to turn to anyone for help.
“But 18 months ago I suffered a double spiral fraction in my leg when I fell at work. It put me completely out of action for 10 months. I am self-employed and as the main wage earner, with a young family, the loss of income was devastating.
“My physical state affected me mentally and I became depressed – I was used to having a physically demanding job that kept me outside for most of the day. Being cooped up inside recovering, unable to support my family, was almost too much to bear.
“It was during one of my really low points that I was reminded about Perennial. I knew by this point that I needed help – I was eligible for tax credits and financial help but I couldn’t face filling in the forms and really didn’t know where to start. I made a call and it changed my life.
“The Perennial Caseworker who was assigned to my case seemed to swoop in and sort us out. She was brilliant. She helped with statutory benefits, made an immediate financial grant payment to help with debts that had built up, helped us buy our children a Christmas present and helped with winter fuel costs. Even after I returned to work, she stayed in touch and made sure we were safe and well.
“I’m working again full time now – it’s taken a while to get back on my feet but things are looking up. I was invited to Buckingham Palace this year and helped at both RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. I am reconnecting with people in the industry and am pleased to be able to help Perennial raise awareness of the incredible service they offer to everyone working in the horticulture industry.
“Looking back I know I have seen my darkest days – it’s a period of my life I am very pleased is behind me. But I’ve come out the other side having re-evaluated my priorities, with the help of my amazing family and Perennial. I would urge anyone who is struggling to make ends meet, or is worried about their financial situation, particularly over winter, to make the call to Perennial as every little bit helps. Their advice is completely confidential and free – you won’t regret it.”
Find out more about Peter on his website: www.petermillsgardening.com