By Mike Saull, Ark Volunteer
I do admire those who volunteer with charities. While there will be a host of reasons for so doing, I’m pretty sure the primary desire is to help and support a cause that they feel is worthy.
I have always tried to give something back to society and – with the support of my wife and family – have been lucky to have had the time to be able to do so.
For me, this started with the local Church, before becoming more hands on as assistant cub scout leader and then through various roles at a local cricket club ending up on a village hall committee.
All of these roles brought me ‘closer to the cause’ and brought satisfaction that I had helped. However, what I didn’t anticipate was the way it brought me closer to others like-minded people who willingly gave their time as well.
Now, in retirement and one of a growing number of much-needed Ark supporters, It should come as no surprise that the volunteer network at the Ark has spawned a similar eclectic mix of folk I love spending time with and many of whom I now class as dear friends.
Believe me when I say, working with the disadvantaged is not easy. Increasingly, after my regular Wednesday shift of cooking, cleaning or simply sat listening to and supporting our clients, I arrive home emotionally battered and shattered.
I know I, and those other willing volunteers and staff at our day centre can gain some daily satisfaction that we have done our best, but we still leave so many men and women in need on what seems like an oh so slow and stumbling road to societal reintegration.
Often, while reflecting on the day over a brew, a note will ping into the Ark volunteer WhatsApp Group. It may be someone confirming they’ve baked a cake for Thursday or that they simply can’t do Friday’s shift. It could be a request for help or a simple thanks from one of the staff.
While I’m sat with my feet up, knowing that my stint may have ended for the week, it is heartening to know that another group is willingly taking up the mantle in the morning to go that extra mile with our wonderful staff for the clients that are most in need.
So, over the Summer, it was lovely to have some down time away from coal face and walk 3-4 miles with a number from this wonderful crowd around the beautiful Shropshire countryside instead. While our clients were inevitably part of our ‘walk and talk’ conversations, this was also a lovely way of celebrating and cementing those friendships formed with the wider Ark Family.
If you are reading this and have never volunteered anywhere for whatever cause, what are you waiting for? I hope you too find it brings you rewards from helping other, but also the unexpected pleasure of new friends in the same way it has I!
Be a part of the Ark family and join our volunteer team!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01743 363305 for more information.
If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, let us know about rough sleepers in your area via Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 or online at www.streetlink.org.uk. We will action your report, locating the person of concern, helping them to get off the streets as soon as possible and keeping in regular contact to make sure they don’t end up sleeping rough again.
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