I’m from North Cornelly and started volunteering at Emmaus South Wales in February 2020.
Prior to volunteering, I spent seven years as a full-time traffic warden for the council but took a year sabbatical due to depression and anxiety. As I started to get myself better, I began volunteering at Sue Ryder before discovering that Emmaus South Wales had vacancies. I volunteer at both places and it keeps me busy which I like.
At Emmaus, I first started working in the Porthcawl shop before moving over to the Maesteg shop. I volunteer wherever Emmaus needs me, and I normally do till work, sorting the clothing donations or just general helping out – I’m happy to do anything.
Volunteering at Emmaus South Wales is as much about what you want to do as a volunteer as what the charity needs, which is what I like about the role. There is no pressure to do anything specific – you can just help out where you can and if it is something new then you are guided and supported through it.
I love volunteering at Emmaus because you meet people with the same ethics and all the staff members, companions and other volunteers are extremely welcoming and friendly. My main thing with volunteering somewhere is that you get on with the people and I definitely do here. I have a really good relationship with Damian, the shop manager at Masteg. We get on like a house on fire and you also always get a thank you when you do things. It’s the little things like that which make a big difference and makes me want to come back each time.
Working alongside the companions, who are all being supported by Emmaus South Wales, is brilliant too. A lot of people think that Emmaus is just shops and don’t know about the community side of the charity and how they are supporting people who have been homeless. Everyone at Emmaus is working towards the same goal and volunteers really become part of the Emmaus community.
One of the main things I’ve taken from the role so far is building my confidence. Early in the role, a staff member told me that I had a good manner and that she could see me going far – that really prompted me to keep going. I’m pretty good with people, but it’s nice to have that interaction with so many new people coming into the shops. The more you interact, the better you get at it. I also love seeing the regular customers come back – it’s one of my favourite things.
I can see myself volunteering at Emmaus South Wales for the foreseeable future and would love to even work from the charity one day. For anyone thinking about volunteering at Emmaus, I’d say go for it. It’s an enjoyable place to volunteer and a great opportunity to make new friends. If you are someone like me that hasn’t socialised in a while, it can really do you the world of good.