I’ve been volunteering for Emmaus Village Carlton for over 18 years – ever since it started, in fact – so I’ve watched it grow and help so many people.

I celebrated my 85th birthday in 2019 and I volunteer for two days each week, along with my husband David who will soon be 90.

I first got involved just after I retired. I didn’t like being at home all the time, so when an acquaintance told me about a new charity looking for volunteers in the local area, I decided to go along and give it a try. That first day the other volunteers and I sorted through the first lot of clothing ever donated to the new Home Store. We found items that could be resold and prepared them for the shop floor.

I like to meet new people so I soon found that I really enjoy serving customers on the shop tills; that’s the volunteer role I now spend most of my time in.

Emmaus Village Carlton is a friendly place to be.

There are around 38 volunteers in total, men and women of different ages, and we’re all made to feel welcome. I’ve met so many new people and made quite a few lasting friendships. Some people volunteer for just a couple of hours each week but those hours really mean something – we’re all pulling together to help so even a small amount of time can make a difference.

I really like having the chance to get to know some of the companions who also work on the shop floor. I’ve found it fascinating over the years because everyone has their own story to tell and each one is different. Meeting the companions is a big part of why I enjoy volunteering.

It is a happy place in general but occasionally there are times of sadness too; we are supporting people who have experienced some tough things. The best moments for me are when I hear about a companion being supported to move on from Emmaus; it feels good to know they’re ready to start again and are hopefully feeling positive about their future.

As a volunteer I definitely feel that get a lot more out than I put in. If I wasn’t volunteering then I would miss out on the sense of community, meeting other people and of course, helping such a worthwhile cause. If I ever have to stop, I shall miss it a lot.