As part of Volunteers Week 2019, we've asked some of our volunteers to explain why they chose The Welcome Centre to volunteer at.
Peter Sargent explains a little more.
Why I volunteer
By profession and training I am an insolvency practitioner and had worked nearly 40 years in a very stressful industry. My work/life balance was changing and I was thinking it was time for a change, time to give back, not always taking. I was only working part-time, so had time on my hands & I didn’t want to waste it.
Why The Welcome Centre
I first read about food banks in general and The Welcome Centre in particular on social media. I was looking around for something where I could make a difference. I considered various charities, but was slowly coming to the conclusion that the food bank was one area I could truly help.
I happened to go see ‘I Daniel Blake’, it made my mind up for me, and I decided that food banks played a vital role in cushioning the impact of the punitive benefits system. I emailed The Welcome Centre, and was soon sat opposite Lada being signed up!
A day at The Welcome Centre
I usually work Monday afternoons and Friday mornings, I can be persuaded to do extra shifts and volunteer for extra duties such as the university accommodation clear out, and collections at Sainsbury, plus the odd talk to groups at about The Welcome Centre’s work.
Like my normal work life I usually like to get in early and get myself organised, after training to do all kinds of jobs, Lada allocated me to the phones, which I really enjoy, and have struck up relationships with people I would have never met in my working life. The calls start at 10am, volume varies, some days it is really busy, others quiet, some days referrals are like buses , they all come at once, but we have banned the Q word (quiet), as mentioning the word usually sets off a string of calls! The phones go off at 4pm (phew)
The people I work with are of all ages and back grounds, it is a great mix, we all get on really well, the staff are very helpful when we get a difficult referral, but you soon develop a good sixth sense to deal with referrals and also it makes you question your own values and views of life.
Our main referrers are The Mission, Local Welfare Provision and Citizens Advice, there are many others from schools, to social Services, homeless charities to domestic violence refuges. They make you think, and appreciate your own circumstances, I find the saddest ones are the domestic violence cases, but it isn’t all doom and gloom, occasionally a referral will make us smile, and it is good when we hear people are turning their life round, you feel as if you have done good.
I feel very proud of the work I do at the food bank, and have become an outspoken advocate for them at all times, probably become a bit of a food bank bore really!
I would recommend volunteering time to a good cause to everyone, and The Welcome Centre is the good cause I have taken to my heart.
Outside volunteer work
I am a keen iyengar yoga enthusiast , I love my garden, I am a grandfather & yes, I still do two part-time professional consultancies in insolvency and business investment, as well as work for my professional body and international trader association , I like to keep busy!