Addiction Centre in Plymouth Benefits from Marks & Spencer Initiative

All too often, news stories about addiction are dark and depressing, so it is nice to hear a feel-good story involving addiction now and then. In Plymouth, a group of recovering addicts and volunteers have gathered to revitalise the roof garden at The Harbour Centre, an addiction treatment centre in the city.

The Harbour Centre staff help those who want to overcome addiction, and the roof garden revamp is one of twenty-four different projects being inspired by the Marks & Spencer ‘Spark Something Good’ initiative.


The campaign by M & S aims to get employees and customers to work together and do something good for their local community. By donating their time and skills, they can cooperate to improve the lives of those living locally to them. More than one hundred employees from M & S stores across Devon will be taking part.

Calming Space

The new Mediterranean-style rooftop garden at The Harbour Centre will be a calming space for staff and users of the centre, and it is hoped it can be used for various therapy sessions as well. Many local businesses have donated to the project, including South West Water, Dulux, and Otter Nurseries.

One centre user who decided to get involved in the project is Mark Renzi, who has been getting treatment for drug addiction at The Harbour Centre for about four months. He is helping other volunteers to refresh the walls with a lick of paint. He said, “Before I came to the Harbour Centre, I was a complete mess. I was taking heroin, crack cocaine, Valium, and I was an alcoholic. I’ve stopped it all thanks to the Harbour Centre. I was in trouble with the courts, and they put me on a drug rehabilitation course.”

Overcoming Addiction

Mark has been struggling with addiction since he was seventeen years old. Now, aged fifty-three, he says he is finally getting his life back on track thanks to the treatment he is receiving at The Harbour Centre. He added, “I’ve got my family and my missus, and they support me. I was clean for about ten years but then my mother passed away, and that started the ball rolling again. Getting out of it is very hard. I’m getting my life back, and my kids, three and six-year-olds, and my wife want to be around me now. It feels like I’m coming back from the dead.”

He is looking forward to being able to use the new garden as part of his treatment. He said, “Life is good right now, and I’m really looking forward to continuing my counselling with sessions at the new roof garden.”

Successful Makeover

The team managed to completely revamp the neglected unused space into a beautiful roof garden in just twenty-four hours. The centre’s chief executive Rebecca Cheshire said, “One of our ladies, Shirley Sinclair, saw the M & S ‘Spark Something Good’ opportunity, and she’d had an eye on the roof space for ages, so she thought she’d put in an application for us. We were very honoured to be chosen as a winner. We’ve sourced lots of donations from our resident builder, and we’ve had volunteers from the organisation and M & S here. We’ve immediately got people thinking about how to use this space now; therapeutic gardening, acupuncture, tai chi.”

She said the centre will now be able to give centre users a new perspective on their own community as well as provide a space where staff can relax and think, considering the number of challenges they face on a daily basis as part of their roles.


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