I’m originally from Bolton but now reside in Wigan and have done for 16 years. My involvement with Emmaus Bolton is that I volunteer for them up to twice a week.

I first got involved at Emmaus Bolton in 2018, not long after my mum had passed away. I met my sister there for some lunch and a look around, and I was in awe of the place. It had some fantastic gems, whether it was furniture or bric-a-brac. I knew I wanted to be part of the craziness of the people and the surroundings.

I had been volunteering for GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) as an Independent Custody Visitor for six years but as this was only around 4-5 visits a quarter, I knew I had the time to offer to Emmaus as a volunteer (if they wanted me).

My volunteer role

I typically volunteer one day per week but try and do two days if possible. My role is varied, and you will usually find me in Lucie’s Pantry, helping customers choose food items and helping them with healthier options. In addition to the pantry, you will find me knee deep in the bric-a-brac sorting room, where many a treasure can be found.

My biggest satisfaction as a volunteer at Emmaus Bolton is definitely all the people who work there, as I know them now quite well. We can have such a great laugh. It’s a real pleasure going to work and not a chore. I do consider myself as an employee as far as my commitment and work ethics.

Unfortunately, we were not able to work during the lockdowns, but when the time did come for us to return last year it was met with excitement. I didn’t feel my health was threatened in any way as there are lots of PPE available and hand sanitising stations.  The guys are very vigilant with the customers which made me feel at ease too.

Why should you volunteer?

My advice to others thinking about becoming a volunteer is just do it. Volunteering gives you so much back in return and I have made so many friends. OK, I may not be paid the salary I had been used to when I was employed or receive the healthcare insurance I had used, but it gives you everything you need from undertaking a role which is treated as serious as it warrants. You certainly feel welcomed and included here at Emmaus Bolton.

Since retiring early (a blessing I know), I have gained so much from my experience volunteering for Emmaus Bolton. I didn’t necessarily appreciate the stories behind the individuals who live there and their reasons for being there. Here, I have a sense of purpose and belonging that is so important, and I know I can go to them with any challenges I may be having in my daily life. I feel like I am the fortunate one to have found Emmaus Bolton.