I have been involved with Emmaus Gloucestershire for 19 years now. I came to Emmaus as a work experience student from the local college and when I finished my four-year course I chose to stay on as a volunteer – I love it here!

I used to volunteer two days a week, but I increased that to four days a few years ago. I started in the Nailsworth shops and volunteered there for many years, 17 I think… I had hair on my head when I started, but I don’t now!

The shops in Nailsworth have a lot of support from the local community. Customers come in time and time again and I enjoyed getting to know them and the companion, staff and volunteer team there. Two years ago, I started to volunteer in the Stroud shop instead. I was sad to leave the Nailsworth shops, but it’s now easier to walk to and from home and I think it’s a really great way for me to learn even more about Emmaus by volunteering in a different shop. I feel like I’m getting on well in the Stroud shop and I’m really pleased.

Throughout my time volunteering at Emmaus, I’ve learnt a lot of new skills like till work and customer service. Now I’m at the Stroud shop, I’m trying to learn even more new things and I love it. Quite a lot of Nailsworth customers come to visit me in the Stroud shop too, which I think is really positive as I’ve brought new customers to the shop!

As I’ve been here for many years, I’ve helped new members of staff when they start and we’ve got two new students from Ruskin Mill College in the Stroud shop doing work experience like I did all those years ago! I’ve started training and helping them. One of them recently said to me that I’m like a mentor to them and they look up to me. It feels full circle. It’s such a success story for me here, coming as a work experience student to getting a voluntary placement for so many years. I’m really pleased with my progress and I’m really happy!

My favourite thing about volunteering at Emmaus Gloucestershire is the people. It’s such a great team and we all get on like a house on fire. It’s nice working as part of a team with all different people. I think Emmaus is really important too. People who need Emmaus receive a home, work, training and support and it’s there for anyone regardless of their background or situation.

To anyone thinking about volunteering at Emmaus Gloucestershire, I’d say come on down! If you’ve got the time and want to learn something new, meet people, and be part of a friendly team, Emmaus Gloucestershire is the place for you!