Everybody will have noticed that I am the genuinely shy volunteer. I find it difficult to start a conversation – I can manage ‘Hello’ and mention the weather, then I dry up.
A few years ago I was introduced to Becki, who told me of her ambition to open her own ‘charity shop’. There would also be a café area as an added incentive for people to enter and feel comfortable. The café area would also be a point of contact where lonely people could come and feel welcome. Volunteers would be there to chat to them.
Late last March as the Covid-19 lockdown was finishing I had a stroke. By chance one day I was talking to a volunteer, Sylvia, who was tending the hanging baskets outside of the front door of the flats where I live. While we were talking Becki and her husband were passing by, so the four of us chatted for a while. I was told Becki had been given the opportunity to fulfil part of her dream and that she had started Spark. It was suggested that I could volunteer at Spark, and that would also give me a reason to leave my flat and do something useful.
It is brilliant to be a volunteer, and very satisfying to know that the whole team are helping people adjust to a social life. It is rewarding to see that, just by sitting near someone else and chatting over a cup of tea and slice of beautiful cake, friendships are being made and people are gaining confidence to leave their usual restricted environments.