A local volunteer is sharing his experience at homelessness charity Emmaus Hertfordshire to encourage others to get involved to support the local cause.
Emmaus Hertfordshire provides a supportive environment for as long as needed and meaningful work in its six second-hand shops across the county for 39 people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.
Jim Wilkinson retired from a busy career in the IT industry and began searching for a place to volunteer: “I always knew that I wanted to find a local cause to support when I retired. When I read about the work of Emmaus Hertfordshire, I approached them right away to see if they had any vacancies and I now volunteer twice a week as a delivery driver.”
Volunteering at Emmaus Hertfordshire not only enables the charity to continue supporting people to rebuild their lives but is also a great way for people to be involved with a cause they believe in: “The issue of homelessness strikes a chord with me and I think the way Emmaus supports people long-term into work and housing is very admirable. I knew straight away it was something that I wanted to be part of.”
Jim’s volunteering role has given him the chance to learn more about the issue he is helping: “I have learned a lot since taking on this role – before, I wasn’t appreciative of the reasons that people can become homeless and the possible situations surrounding their situation. I now have a greater understanding of homelessness after spending time with people that have experienced it.
As well as volunteering his time and skills, Jim receives a lot in return: “My role has been extremely rewarding, and my win is getting something out of giving something back – there’s a feel-good factor to it. My favourite part is meeting and spending time with all different characters in the community and my days here are always very entertaining, with a lot of funny moments.
“I also like meeting and talking to all the customers who kindly donate their items – I think Emmaus stands for a lot of people’s idea about charity. Donating to Emmaus isn’t just about giving items or money blindly – it directly supports the community and helps to give people a way back into a structured life and new work experience. It is something that I’m extremely proud to be involved in.”
Emmaus Hertfordshire sells quality second-hand furniture, electronics, clothing and much more in its six shops in Barnet, Harpenden, Hartford, Hemel Hempstead, Tring and St Albans. All funds generated through the shops goes directly back to help run the charity’s community home in St Albans.
The charity has several volunteering roles available including textile sorters, sales assistants, stock rotators, van crew, administration assistants, and antiques researcher. Emmaus is looking for individuals with suitable skills and experience, as well as a commitment to volunteer at least half a day a week.