Time with St Luke’s volunteers  

A walk around the Centre during early June demonstrates the activity which is now part of everyday life. It is very heartening to see and one is struck by the thoughtfulness and hard work of so many of our volunteers. 

We have a big food delivery donated by the Felix Trust and it is now like a military operation co-ordinated by our Community Engagement manager, Carol-Ann.  Four volunteers are waiting to take the crates of food from the van which arrives.  They carry them into the main dining room where they then sort them and put them into 65 parcels for families who will arrive later in the afternoon.  The work takes an hour and a half to prepare the food parcels.

Our volunteers are frantically trying to ensure social distancing from each other and from staff who are still working at the Centre.  The volunteers are all local people who want to support St Luke’s in its work at this time.  Some are furloughed themselves from their own work.  Others are on annual leave from their day job but still want to help out.  Others are members of St Luke’s Trustee board and others are people who would normally use the services at the Centre.

Walking on out into the garden shows Andrew and a team of gardening volunteers, watering the plants in the garden and green house.  They come almost every day and they care for the plants which would otherwise have died or grown wild.   They also keep a close eye on the chickens to ensure they continue to receive food and water.  Such dedication by our volunteers is really wonderful to experience.

Coming back into the Centre, I speak to our director of services who tells me that she has just spoken to four volunteers from our corporate partners.  The four are ringing our service users to find out how they are doing.  They put them in touch with services if they need support.  They listen to some of our service users on the telephone and relate some of the issues people are being faced with at this time.  Some are very lonely, having not left their homes in twelve weeks. Others are anxious about their families.  Some are concerned about a cough they have. Our volunteers listen carefully and link them up with services to advise them and reassure them. St Luke’s is very grateful to these volunteers. 

Lunch is ready to be delivered to our service users and the Care team are packing the food into delivery containers. Patrick is ready with his bicycle to help with the delivery. Patrick is back from University and is studying at home but he wants to help local people by delivering food amidst his studies. 

And then, just after lunch, people start to arrive to pick up the food parcels. Carol-Ann co-ordinates everyone again and the volunteers place themselves around the Cookery School at food areas. When local residents arrive, they will say what food they need and this food is added to the prepared food parcels. This could include items such as nappies, shower gel, tooth paste etc. Our local residents are so appreciative of the work by our volunteers. It is very moving to see.

This is just an example of a short day at St Luke’s at the moment. It shows the concern of our local residents for each other.  It is further proof of the closeness of our community. It is typical of the need for people to reach out (metaphorically in this time of social distancing!) and to support each other in this way.  Without our volunteers, St Luke’s just could not function at the moment. To each and every one of them, we say a huge Thank You. We appreciate your help and support.