Before I began volunteering at Emmaus, I spent many years working in retail, both in England and South Africa. When I first applied to join as a volunteer, I couldn’t have imagined where it would take me.

I found out about Emmaus Leeds by chance really. Being retired, I decided I wanted to do something positive with my time. I looked on the internet and the volunteer opportunity at Emmaus came up, so I applied. I joined in 2012 and started off by volunteering one day a week but now I do twice a week.

Since joining Emmaus Leeds, I have worked in the bric-a-brac department where I am responsible for pricing up and sorting out clothes, shoes and various other bits and bats. Volunteering here is wonderful on many levels. I like the whole community spirit of the thing. You can do as much as you want and make it fit in with the rest of your life. Once you do get involved, you find it opens up all sorts of avenues.

My time at Emmaus has enabled me to gain a real insight into other people’s way of life and given me a sense of purpose in the work I do. I thoroughly enjoy working with the companions as they all come from different backgrounds which means they are a great source of interesting anecdotes! Working together with other people means you’re bound to get to know them over a period of time.

Making new connections

By volunteering at Emmaus Leeds I’ve got to know lots of different people. As well as the companions, staff and fellow volunteers, this also includes students on placement at the charity.

One such student was on placement from France. He was staying in digs not far from where I live so I offered to take him sight-seeing around places of interest in Leeds and Yorkshire. From Leeds this person then went on a placement in Lima before returning to France. He suggested I join him for a few weeks in Peru as I’d never been there before. We enjoyed some sight seeing including trips to the Andes and overall it was a fantastic experience.

I also made good friends with another French student who was on placement at Emmaus. Again, we did a lot of sight-seeing around Leeds and following the end of his placement, I was invited to join his family in France for a few weeks. We have stayed in touch over the years and have visited each other since.

Scratch the surface and you will find that volunteering goes far beyond what you might first imagine. It’s not just a question of passing the time on, it’s a question of enjoying the time. The spin-off is quite amazing. There are things you don’t anticipate that just happen, almost by accident really.

Emmaus is a fantastic organisation to be a part of so please continue to give your much-appreciated support. It all goes towards pushing the organisation forward and bettering the lives of everyone within the community.