Tag Archives: volunteering

“Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.” ~ JR Tolkein

Download from quotefancy.com for wallpaper

I love this quote. It is almost a Pooh~ism!

As a writer I am always stirred by the generosity of spirit of people I meet in terms of giving time, effort and finances to support those in need. I also find stories of resilience and fortitude of folks heartwarming ~ how people are brought to rock bottom by their circumstances, often through no fault or action of their own, find the courage to rise up once more.

I particularly love the work of Emmaus, with so many wonderful stories of how the organisation has changed people’s lives by providing a purpose, work and community life and the chance to give something back.

This is what Micheal wrote:

“”Without Emmaus, I don’t think I would be around right now and it has given me a lifeline to a better future. I was first homeless at the age of seven with my mother and continued to be homeless on-and-off for nearly 20 years before finding Emmaus.”

To read Micheal’s full story please click on this link. Micheal’s Story

Unfortunately the virus has stalled a great deal of the usual work of Emmaus ~ their workshops, shops and delivery to name three areas, but the organisation has continued to support those in great need throughout. Emmaus is a UK wide organisation. There is almost certainly one near where you live. https://emmaus.org.uk/

It is people like Michael’s who inspired me to write Dot’s story in MISSING Past and Present. 

~ not only to write about the tragedy of circumstances that led to Dot’s homelessness, but also the network of support for her, once she was mentally at a point when she could accept help, because to do this and to ask takes a great deal of courage.

That is so apparent in the current crisis. People like to be independent and do not wish to be reliant on others, but once the step is taken it is such a relief to know that support is close by; overwhelming even.

Even closer to home I am sure you have noticed that there’s so much community spirit. It is certainly the case around here but I’m sure there are similar stories in the rest of the UK and even around the world, inspired by the needs provoked by Covid 19.

Locally there’s KSS, Kinghorn Support Squad, which if you read quickly looks like KISS ~ a lovely name. This support group was set up by our Provost about three years ago for those casual volunteers who did not want to join a group on a regular basis, but were happy to help out whenever they could. Examples of this was setting up and dismantling the furniture for the village show and also as Marshalls for the Black Rock Race.

Through this crisis this group have been stalwarts, available for food and medication drops and delivering letters and postcards explaining where folks can ask for help or arrange deliveries if they need it. In fact many, many more have volunteered to be part of KSS to become paet of the steering group, street coordinators and on hand to sort out local Foodbank drops if necessary. It is often the street coordinators who keep in touch with people locally and sort out any needs as they arise; a network ensuring that no person is missed or forgotten.

The church and the Lunch Club for the elderly have also been involved, as they always have, in ensuring everyone is safe and has someone to talk to and to help them.

In our neighbouring town of Burntisland BEAT has been established and their remit is quite wide, including  dog walking, providing toys for children in need and also food drops, organised through a central hub rather than the satellite approach of Kinghorn.

Each  way has been developed with the needs of the local communities in mind and show a resilience and caring attitude which prevails, whatever the circumstances.

The Kirkcaldy Foodbank continues with its support and although in the first few weeks the need grew exponentially and the provisions sourced from local supermarkets on a regular basis was scarce, they have continued to be the back bone in ensuring that no person locally goes hungry or lacks essential toiletries. In fact there has been a huge drive to give the Foodbank extra support through this time, both in terms of food and donations of money.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the need, like a vast almost impenetrable chasm, but Michael and Dot’s stories are uplifting and ensure that we are left with an overriding sense of HOPE.

 

 

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Filed under Events, Fife, MISSING Past and Present, Planning a novel, Research, Writing a novel

Noah Enterprise Luton, Bedfordshire ~ Such Great Need and an Inspiration for my novel

NOAH ONE SHOULD BE LEFT OUT IN THE COLD

The wonderful slogan of Noah Enterprise Soup Kitchen in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Many years ago when I was going through a breakdown of my marriage I began to volunteer at Noah Enterprise Soup Kitchen in Luton. What impressed me most about this welfare centre was that it was so much more than a soup kitchen. At the time, back in 2003, the kitchen was run like clockwork by two Irish sisters. They were wonderfully understanding that I was quite fragile and so at first I only washed up in the background. Then, as my confidence grew, I began to serve at the hatch, enjoying the banter with the clients, and finally I was trusted to go and clear the tables alongside and intermingling with everyone.

The sisters were probably in their late fifties at the time but their sense of humour and their efficiency running the kitchen lived with me over the years and in MISSING Past and Present, the two Irish sisters who ran The Ark, a centre in an imaginary town of Drumford had similarities to my memories, only Orla and Laura had just left college. It was Dorothy, my protagonist, who was homeless, but she still had her pride as this extract shows:

Her sister’s name was Orla. It was easy to tell the difference because, although both had gingery blonde hair, Laura’s was cropped short around her oval face whereas Orla’s locks were long and plaited. The overall effect was similar with their delicately freckled features shining through.

‘What would you like today?’ winked Laura. How about this sexy black number?’ she asked as she held a sturdy black sweatshirt towards me. ‘There’s even some glamorous troos to match.’ The twinkle in her eyes rested on the leggings in her other hand.

I smiled, my eyes drifting to the floor. It was touching the way they were both sensitive to my shyness. Given an hour or so I would open up a little, but I found company a trifle hard to handle these days, after my imposed solitude.”

As at Noah, my fictional welfare centre provides far more than hot food; there’s a place of shelter to stay too. It is a place for the lost and vulnerable; for the homeless to take refuge, even if for a short period of time.

If you’d like to donate or volunteer at Noah in Luton, and I can assure you that the organisation and the place, not to mention the need are real, and not figments of my imagination, then please click on this link.

As the website says, you can donate more than just money ~ food, furniture and clothes are also vital for their work.

You could always volunteer at a place near you if you are able to, even during the pandemic. I know that in my short experience of a couple of years I gained far more than I gave. It was a pleasure!

 

 

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Events, MISSING Past and Present, Planning a novel