Bradford-born Gareth is a retail volunteer in our Sunbridge Road shop and lives in Shipley. After living at Emmaus Leeds and Emmaus Glasgow as a companion, Gareth is now volunteering to ‘give back’ and hopes to secure a paid retail job with his voluntary experience.
What brought you to Emmaus?
I knew about Emmaus because I had lived at Leeds and Glasgow Emmaus’s as part of the communities there. I moved back to Bradford after a relationship breakup, and saw something on Facebook about volunteering at Emmaus Bradford at the new shop on Sunbridge Road. I didn’t even plan to volunteer at the time, I just dropped in to look around. It looked like a good place to start getting back into work, plus I knew a lot about Emmaus’s work already. So I started volunteering in April 2021.
What do you get out of it?
I’ve always been interested in retail, so it’s given me the chance to learn how to use the till and card machine. I chat with customers and I think I’m quite good at selling things. I really enjoy the banter with staff and customers. It’s the right thing to do to give back. I’m hoping that I could get a paid retail job as a result of this either at Emmaus or at another shop. Some customers come in for a chat with me now that they know me, which is good. At the end of the day volunteering I feel tired (in a good way). I’ve usually had a laugh and I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad day here.
What would you say to someone who was unsure about volunteering?
You get a lot out of it. It’s about the joy of meeting new people and doing something with your life, which is something we all need. Try it and see if it’s right for you.
What do you do with your spare time?
Outside volunteering I love reading. I’m in the process of reading 5 books. I like writing. I’ve been published in the past I wrote a play when I was 17. I’m writing a story at the moment about a football team playing a game in space against some aliens. I’ve been doing Pokemon for 4 years; it’s a good way to exercise as it takes you out walking. On a good weekend I could probably do 25/30km on Pokemon with a small group of other people.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t started to volunteer with us?
Probably sitting on my backside eating rubbish, not really interested in doing much, and not caring about what I was doing. This has given me a reason to get up and do something worthwhile.
Do you have a motto?
My motto in life? It’s KMF – keep moving forward.