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Festival helps health charity Restore faith in a better life
Buy this photo » June Howells, left, and Marianne Boyce
HOMELESS and sick eight years ago, Marianne Boyce’s life has changed for the better.
Miss Boyce was running a stall at the Elder Stubbs Festival near Florence Park, Oxford, on Saturday, to raise money for Oxfordshire mental health charity Restore.
Before joining Restore herself, Miss Boyce, 41, from Barton, was homeless for two and a half years – with some of the time spent living on the streets in Oxford city centre.
She said: “Mentally, eight years ago I was trapped – not knowing who I was and not enjoying life.
“I didn’t know where life was going to take me at all. I was a very different person.
“If anything I was destroyed and distraught. I was desperate to be myself again.
“Restore has helped me tremendously. The support is very varied – we are a team and a community.”
Miss Boyce was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome which meant she couldn’t recover from infections easily and needed help with basic tasks like walking up stairs.
She has been visiting the charity at the Elder Stubbs allotments in Rymers Lane twice a week for eight years.
Restore runs 2.5 acres of allotments for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables as part of their recovery.
Also among those helped by the charity is 56-year-old June Howells, from Wood Farm.
Miss Howells has had depression since she was 13 and for the past two years has been supported by Restore.
She has also been diagnosed with paranoia and obsessive compulsive disorder.
She said: “It has actually given me a reason to get out of bed every day and helps me resocialise myself.”
The charity hopes the festival, which ran from noon to 6pm, will raise £7,000 to help it continue its work.
About 3,000 people visited to enjoy live music from three stages, face painting, games, pony rides, and browsing the home-made craft and food stalls.
Lesley Weston, from East Oxford, said she took her son Rio Chase along for the day to support the community.
Rio, 10, said: “It was good. I had my portrait done and we had a go on the games. And I got the highest score on the Jenga building competition.”
Event organiser Katie Rowell said: “It all went really well – everyone seems to be enjoying the day.”
Restore spokesman Gemma Humphrey said: “We help people develop skills and their confidence after a period of illness – people might have been out of work, or even never have worked.”
The charity supports about 800 people across Oxfordshire, and up to 100 people visit the Elder Stubbs allotments each Monday to Friday.
From its base in Manzil Way, East Oxford, Restore runs five recovery groups for patients.
For further information, visit restore.org.uk