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Mustafa: Community Engagement Facilitator

In the vibrant landscape of the green space sector, Mustafa emerges as a cultivator of change and a champion for diversity. As the Community Engagement Facilitator at Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), they have sown the seeds of transformation over a decade in the field.

Mustafa’s journey sprouted as a self-employed gardener, where they shared their expertise and conducted workshops for charitable organisations. Their hands, weathered by the soil and life’s challenges, tell a story of resilience and passion.

“I did a garden design when I was 15, for my GCSEs, but life had other plans.”

Unemployment and a battle with mental health brought Mustafa back to their roots and, at 40, they found solace and purpose in a green space career. Yet, Mustafa’s path to their current role was not without obstacles.

“My grandad was a farmer, Mum was green-fingered, maybe it rubbed off on me.”

At the time, the sector demanded formal qualifications, and Mustafa’s wealth of practical knowledge and innate love for the land was not enough. Not only this, Mustafa also found themself the subject of discrimination. However, undeterred, Mustafa immersed themself in community gardening and eventually pioneered Hackney’s most extensive grow-your-own project.

Adversity became the fertile ground for innovation. Mustafa took control of their destiny, embracing self-employment and creating a path that celebrated their uniqueness. Their story is not just about gardening; it’s about breaking barriers and redefining norms.

Diversity in the green space sector, according to Mustafa, is a work in progress. Misdirected investments have led to an industry that fails to mirror the richness of the communities it serves. Mustafa envisions change, a shift in focus that will cultivate a more inclusive and representative sector for the future.

What fuels Mustafa's passion?

“I can be out in nature. I can make things look gorgeous for others. The love, thanks and gratitude from customers are priceless.”

Reflecting on their achievements, Mustafa recalls one in particular: “It was the first time I installed a gravel garden in de Beauvoir, it’s been nearly three years in and it has established itself so beautifully.”

Mustafa feels ‘extremely satisfied’ in their current role at BOST. Their role offers the flexibility to work inside and outside, and their mental health has ‘extremely improved’ since entering the green space sector.

Their advice for aspiring professionals is a call to embrace uniqueness.

“If you’re different, be different,” they encourage. “And if an employer doesn’t appreciate that, they’re not right for you.”

Mustafa’s favourite aspect of working in the green space sector lies in the diversity of plants reflecting the diversity of people.

Mustafa’s story echoes the struggles of a previous generation, but it also resonates with hope for a brighter future. Their journey is an invitation to those considering a career in the green space sector – go for it, break barriers, and let your uniqueness bloom.