I come in every Tuesday to Emmaus Bolton for volunteering. I sort, put out and stock the bric-a-brac.

I was pleased to find Emmaus wanted volunteers on bric-a-brac. I was really keen because I like charity shopping and have done so for many years. I love trinkets. I’ve not shopped in a ‘proper shop’ for a long time. I like finding things in charity shops for my style at home. I like opening the bags and boxes, and not knowing what you’re going to find.

One of my favourite things to do is detangling the jewellery. I really get something from that. I detangle and detangle, and I know I can get six or seven necklaces or bracelets to put on the shop floor to be sold. If it’s gold or silver, that’s a bit of a bonus, because it will make the charity more money.

Out of all the bric-a-brac I look through, I like the little ornaments. I like buying things like these and showing them off in glass cabinets at my house. I like the little Wade ornaments because in the 70s you used to get these in Christmas crackers, and my grandma and mum saved them all. I used to keep a collection in my room and then find them in the shops. The rare ones are a lot pricier than the ones you find in the Christmas crackers. Some of them are of little animals and different things. It widened my knowledge of Wade, and I would like to think some could be of value as ‘tomorrow’s antiques’.

Why volunteer for a homelessness charity?

Homelessness is close to my heart because I got into financial difficulties six or seven years ago. I used to have a house and a car, but there were bills not getting paid. It was a struggle. I couldn’t go to the job centre because my confidence had gone. So, I was on nothing. I was so ashamed and embarrassed.

I lost my house and became homeless. No matter how hard I tried at the time, there was no help. So now, to find somewhere like Emmaus Bolton for people who are homeless is amazing.

An opportunity to help

When I was homeless, the trauma of things you experience made me unwell. So, it means a lot to be able to put some hours from my life into a place like Emmaus, because of what the charity does for people.

Eventually I got help. It was heavenly getting my own place. I never used to like hoovering and dusting in the past, until I got a flat again. I used to go charity shopping to find little trinkets and build up my treasures again and that’s still going on now.

I didn’t think I would be able to come out as strong as I have done. Having gone through those experiences, makes you think about life and the lifestyle you live and shows you how lucky you are.

Coming here to volunteer with Emmaus Bolton helps my mental health. I get up knowing I’m coming here. I get support when I’m here and get treated the same as everyone else. It’s a good feeling. I didn’t think I could work with the public and be able to communicate with people, like being able to assist customers.

Volunteering with the team

It’s good to go to lunch here with the other members of the team at Emmaus Bolton too. Having got to know everyone a bit more, I feel like I am included in conversations. They’ve made it very easy as sometimes it’s the only people I’ve talked to all week. Coming here is motivational to do other things I need to do in my life.

I’m always with someone when I’m volunteering. One of the other volunteers, Sue, thinks I’ve got a good range of knowledge through the shopping I’ve done, so I know the prices and if something is a bit more special than something else. I know where to look for similar things on sale on the internet to research items.

To be able to get to where I am, to be able to shop and volunteer for a charity so close to my heart is a big step for me. I’m giving it 110%.

Joining Emmaus Bolton

I would say definitely volunteer. It can be only one day per week and you can always say hello and goodbye to it. I don’t think you’ll say goodbye. You will want to stay. You don’t know what you’re going to find from one week to the next. It’s like an adventure of sorts. I’m building up, each and every time I come.

Emmaus Bolton is a good thing. It’s changing lives around, almost without people even knowing it, and making people stronger: to get the best out of life and get off the streets.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities to support Emmaus Bolton, and for information about how to apply, please visit Emmaus Bolton’s volunteer pages here.