Volunteers Week – Flo’s story
I grew up in St Helens and part of the then vibrant life of the Salvation Army.
Perhaps at the age of 25 and now married with two children we drifted away from the Army. As my children grew a little older I entered back into the workplace.
Firstly as a volunteer at the children’s playgroup which I eventually ran and developed.
I became an administrator after that followed by being accepted for training with Relate. Firstly as a volunteer then employed and I then worked with them for 18yrs. Then God took me back to the Salvation Army via working with the homeless at Salisbury House Lifehouse and eventually back to the Corps. God’s plan you could say.
I felt I had come home and loved every minute of my 13yrs at Salisbury House. It was there I came in contact with saha and I worked closely with them to accommodate some of our residents into independent living.
I eventually as part of work became an outreach worker which involved me being able to visit the men in their homes and to support them during the first six months away from the lifehouse.
I soon realised how difficult this was for the men and how soon they fell into a depression – mainly I feel because of loneliness and lack of contact. The liaison between myself and saha support workers was vital in motivating and signposting these guys into meaningful activities.
It was at this time when the phrase ‘Bridging the Gap’ was being spoken about. I realised as a Salvationist, working at the hostel and very much involved with saha I was in an ideal position to try and bring this about.
Determined and with God’s help this became almost my mission. This took time but eventually changes were taking place and now the guys from the Lifehouse and saha are welcomed at the church and the hall is now being used by saha for their shared scheme activities.
So as I approached retirement I decided to use these God given skills to volunteer with saha to ensure that where possible no-one should be lonely. Once accepted at saha I now work closely with Lynne and Julie who identify were there is a need. This could just mean a cup of tea and a chat or something a little more in depth, hopefully to motivate and to give someone their self value back.
The opportunities have developed into helping at coffee mornings, various activities and taking folk to church. As you can see volunteering has always been a part of my life and I would encourage anyone who has a few hours to spare to get involved. It is immensely satisfying and makes such a difference to the people you meet.