My name is Shirley and I’m one of the Recycling Centre volunteers at Emmaus Bolton.

My role is building up stock so it’s ready for sale at the Scrap Store, which involves making wadding from recycling duvets, cutting skinny quarters and fat quarters from fabric and deconstructing clothes to gather zips together and buttons, among other things.

A costume designer and lecturer from Salford Uni called Becca came to Emmaus Bolton to train us. She showed us how to do a few things here, like how to make the fabric balls out of t-shirts and cut skinny and fat quarters. She was like one of us, she really got stuck in. Becca showed us how to deconstruct stuff to make the most out of it, the best way to get the yarn out of duvets, for example.

When I left school, I trained to be a machinist. I used to make underskirts, knickers and nighties then moved onto bedding and buttons. I’ve brought buttons, patterns and wool from home for the Recycling Centre. I also crochet and knit. I like furry wool and have made blankets, hearts and teddies to go on sale.

My reason for volunteering

I started volunteering after my husband died on our wedding anniversary. I didn’t want to go out of the house and see anyone. One day I was in the kitchen with my son, and I was crying and said I didn’t want to be here anymore. We always did everything together. My best friend had died six years before him, and I thought I had not got anyone.

When I went home and told my son and grandson I was going to volunteer at Emmaus Bolton, they said it was good that I was finally going to get out. Now I’m here from when Emmaus Bolton opens up to when it closes most days.

Me and my husband Ian used to come here to look at furniture, have a mooch and go into the café and have a sandwich and some cake. He’d have a coffee and I would have my Tango. We had been coming to Emmaus Bolton for 10 years plus. He would say, ‘right, go to see your plants’ and although I’d pay for so many it’d cost me and arm and a leg, I’d still buy them. I’m looking for some Aloe Vera for my daughter in law, at the moment.

Finding new friends

Someone else began volunteering when she found herself in a similar position to mine and another volunteer started at the same time as me, and we get on really well. The Recycling Centre has to keep going so the Scrap Store has things on sale. Why is Emmaus Bolton so special? Because of everyone here.

I love the handmade furniture. I’ve bought a cat condo from Emmaus Bolton for my cats Lucy and Gabe and my kitten. One of the companions brought that up for me. The companions who live and work here are really lovely. The guys downstairs open up for me every morning and lock up for me every night and bring stuff up. They’re all really friendly here.

Why volunteer?

For anyone thinking of volunteering, I’d say, give it a try, it’s really good. I don’t think people realise how much goes on here beyond the shop, cafe and plants. You can come here to meet new people and make friends. You can learn new things and get a bit more out of life. I’m so glad I did it. Come here and be surprised. There is so much going on.

For all our volunteer roles and how to apply, visit Emmaus Bolton’s volunteering page.