Celebrating our wonderful volunteers this Volunteers’ Week. Here are some of their stories.
Janet and Joan
Janet and Joan are sisters who were brought up in Walworth and have attended our Lunch Club for Older People for a number of years.
Seven months ago, Janet started volunteering at Messy Church and soon became a key volunteer on the core team. Then, when Involuntary Movement needed a couple of volunteers to help chaperone students in a taxi to their weekly dance class at Pembroke House, Janet was quick to step forward with her sister, Joan. Now Janet and Joan are also undergoing volunteer training to join our befriending programme so that they can visit an isolated older person once a week for a chat and company.
With their energy and enthusiasm, Janet and Joan embody the community spirit of Pembroke House where we encourage everyone to become involved in different ways, whether as participants or as volunteers.
When we see Tom having animated chats with our Lunch Clubbers as he serves their food, we find it difficult to believe that he originally came to Pembroke House because he was advised to try volunteering as a way to overcome his agoraphobia.
The first time Tom came to Pembroke House and signed up as a volunteer, he quickly felt overwhelmed. We agreed that he would take a break but that the door was always open. A few months later, Tom came back and started using his computer skills to help us design leaflets for various projects. Soon he started volunteering at Lunch Club as well and quickly became one of our most reliable volunteers as well as joining staff members to sing in a local choir.
He says: I came to give back to the community through volunteering but I find I’m developing skills I didn’t realise I was lacking.
Tom is now working towards a future career in mental health.
Sara met Fausto, our Community Outreach worker, when they came to Pembroke House with their toddlers to attend Mumspace: a group of mums who share the ups and downs of motherhood. She was thinking about returning to work after a while at home with her baby but wanted a chance to refresh her office skills first.
Now she volunteers two mornings a week in the Pembroke House office and has been a big help to the office team, helping out with everything from routine administrative tasks to translation of documents into Spanish.
Sara says, “I love typing and I’m learning new words in English.”
We’re happy that we can help volunteers build up skills and experience to help build up their CVs – especially when we get wonderful helpers like Sara!
At 85 years old, David Clark is an inspiring example of someone who has been at the heart of the Pembroke House Community for half his life.
For eighteen years, David was an enthusiastic leader at our weekly Youth Club. He took part in youth camps and volunteered at our local primary school, escorting the children to swimming classes.
He’s an active member of our Church, delivering the church newsletter for two years.
Today he’s a regular participant at our Lunch Club for Older People and helps out wherever he can: gardening, fixing kids’ bikes, providing materials for Messy Church and coming along to the Lunch Club Advisory meetings.
In his first six months volunteering in our Lunch Club kitchen, Vassiste contributed an amazing 125 volunteer hours to Pembroke House. He comes every Thursday to help prepare a meal for our Lunch Club for Older People where he’s always quick to offer a friendly smile to participants.
Utterly reliable, he works hard in the kitchen for at least five hours every Thursday, preparing food, serving and clearing up afterwards. He’s also helped prepare food for special events such as our Masters’ Reception and plans to join our gardening group, so will have contributed a huge number of hours by the end of the year.
Vassiste has a learning disability and is active with Mencap as well as taking various courses with CoolTan Arts. In recognition of his contribution to Pembroke House, he was awarded the Southwark Star award for Disabled People’s Champion of the Year 2017.