John – shop floor volunteer
John remembered the six months he spent sleeping rough, and being helped during that time inspired him to volunteer. Now he is 70 years old and keeps telling us, "I'm going to keep on volunteering and giving back for as long as I can."
Location: Shared Space, Westcliff
Experience: Knows what it's like to be helped when in need
Hobby: Meeting new people and seeing friends
Working Days: Two shifts a week
I slept rough for six months on the streets of Southend. Local people helped me and now I’m helping by volunteering at Shared Space.
First impressions of volunteering?
I remember walking into the shop for the first time and thinking this is something I need to do.
Why did you volunteer?
I was born in Shoeburyness and I was a gardener for Southend Council Parks Department but then I became homeless. Good local people helped me. They made a big difference to me. Now I want to do something to help and give back.
What do you do on an average shift?
I help the customers, tidy up, look after the shop and I get the shift leader to do things when I can’t. Sometimes I volunteer to help organise special events in the shop.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
I’ve organised coffee mornings in the shop to raise money for cancer and Shared Space gave the whole lot to the cancer charity I wanted it to support. We had tea, coffe and cake in the shop and people gave donations of money. Other Shared Space volunteers brought in the cakes and we made £150.
What difference has volunteering made to you?
Shared Space is my close family of volunteers which means that if I have any problems there is always someone there to sort it out. And working as a volunteer give me a reason to get up in the morning and somewhere to go. Now I get up and out to get to the shop, no matter what the weather is. Each week I go to the ‘Life and Faith Group’ which meets at lunchtimes right in the middle of the shop. It encourages me in my Christian faith – we talk, eat and pray together.
John says, “I love the job and I love the people and the spirit of Shared Space.”
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