Beth is a long-standing volunteer at our Nailsworth shop and one of Emmaus Gloucestershire’s founders. Beth has remained dedicated to Emmaus Gloucestershire since 1993 – almost 30 years! We sat down with Beth to chat about her time at our charity. Here is Beth’s story:

“Emmaus Gloucestershire has been a big part of my life for a long time. I’ve been heavily involved since the charity first began in 1993 and over the years, I have watched the whole thing grow. I don’t really have a timescale for when things happened; all I know is that I’ve been at Emmaus forever and I’ve done virtually everything from cleaning the toilets to banking, and everything else in-between.

It all started with a friend of mine who I used to do part time work for in a Fair Trade shop. She was the one who had the vision of starting Emmaus Gloucestershire and took two of us on board to support her. I had just taken early retirement from teaching, so it was a good time. We started in a very tiny shop in Nailsworth to begin with and it grew from there. I had a wonderful time helping to get the companion house ready, and even hung curtains and laid carpet! It was a really exciting time seeing the companions join.

In the early days, I was inspired by what we were doing and now, I’m totally committed to it. I believe in the idea of Emmaus more than anything, that’s why I’ve stuck with it. All the volunteers really do take all the companions to our hearts. We’ve had so many tears over the years about companions who’ve left at the wrong time, for maybe the right reasons. I’m not exaggerating when I say how attached I have become to the companions who work with us in Nailsworth. We, as a community shop, enjoy many regular customers, which means, we are all able to bond with companions. As volunteers, we have no idea what they’ve been through, and we don’t need to know. Emmaus doesn’t always work out for everyone, but for some, it works out brilliantly and encourages them to meet new challenges.

I’m well into my 80s now so not as heavily involved as I was. I’m in the Nailsworth shop twice a week helping with the toys. I take them home to sort and price ready to sell. I’ve made good friendships with the other volunteers, who are all local, and I think we all need Emmaus Gloucestershire to feel like we’re doing something useful. It’s amazing the work we get through; I don’t think any of our volunteers ever sit down!

A few years ago, I won a ‘Believe in Gloucester’ award for my volunteering at Emmaus. That was one of the most amazing things. I was not prepared for it in any way and when I was invited to the evening I thought, ‘for goodness sake, I’ve got to put on a dress!’. It was such a wonderful evening though and an absolute highlight for me was winning a little trophy. My husband rang our grown-up children afterwards and said, ‘look what mother has done!’. It was wonderful.

I think the ethos of Emmaus is absolutely right and I’m still volunteering here because I love everything about it.”