Volunteering can have many benefits. It can help you to make friends, join an extended family and even gain paid employment. Volunteering can also be a way for you to give something back to a charity, community or business.
For Paul Moffat, volunteering came unexpectedly at a time when his life was on a downward spiral and his hopes were low. It was New Year’s Eve 2004 and Paul found himself homeless, sleeping rough on the freezing streets in Hanley. Here Paul shares his thoughts and experiences with us and why volunteering is so important…
“I ended up homeless some years back and I had no idea what I was going to do. I was sleeping on the streets in Hanley and wasn’t in the best of health at the time. I had recently had surgery on my knee and sleeping out in the freezing cold was not helping, it was not a good time”, says Paul.
“After some weeks I headed to the Salvation Army for shelter which eventually led to me volunteering for charity reuse shop Furniture Mine. I went to Furniture Mine thinking it would give me something to do, as I was hungry for work and wanted to learn. I did not want to be sleeping rough and I wanted to get my life back on track. Although I still did not have any real plans at the time by volunteering, it opened up new doors for me.
“Soon after joining Furniture Mine I was sent on a PAT testing training course then went on to do every volunteer role available at the shop.
“I was also later offered my own flat by a local authority and a full-time paid role at the shop – I could not believe it.
“When I was first offered the flat after being homeless, Furniture Mine helped me with furniture, which I really appreciated. Furniture is so valuable and so important for that first step towards feeling like you have a home.
In 2017 Emmaus North Staffs acquired Furniture Mine from a local housing association and Paul is now our Sales Coordinator.
“I was asked to stay on working for the charity when Emmaus North Staffs took over and I was delighted to do so,” reminisced Paul.
“From my own experiences and the skills I’ve learned along the way, I totally understand what volunteering is all about and I try and support our volunteers as best as I can – they all work so hard.
“We have volunteers who come to us and at first they may have certain skills but their confidence can be really low. But we work with them and I have volunteers who come to me asking me to share my knowledge with them about various things including the products we have in store. Emmaus Furniture Mine is huge and so we have such a variety of quality items for sale and our volunteers love to get involved. We see so many volunteers grow in confidence and some go on to gain employment – which is great – that’s what it’s all about.
“We are their family in a way and they feel a part of us. Who would have thought all that time ago by volunteering I would be doing a job I love? I feel very lucky.
“Along with the volunteers we work with, the people we support and our customers – we are helping with real life changes and that’s what Emmaus North Staffs and Emmaus Furniture Mine is all about.”
Emmaus North Staffs works to support local people to move away from poverty. Whilst many local charities have charity shops with furniture, no other local charity operates a ‘referrals’ system as we do. We partner with housing associations, supplying furniture and white goods to those referred to us who are setting up home, at no cost to the tenants aside from a small delivery fee. Emmaus North Staffs is raising funds towards our long-term goal of setting up an Emmaus community for formerly homeless people. The accommodation will offer a home, work experience, daily support and funded training to rebuild lives and will be the first of its kind in the county.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering at Emmaus Furniture Mine and Emmaus North Staffs contact Volunteer Development Coordinator Keziah Stott by email or telephone 01782 846111.