Church leader Norma Phillips is putting out a plea for people to say ‘I do’ to volunteering at Whitby Salvation Army, which provides a lifeline to people in the community, after ‘fantastic support’ during the festive season.
Norma, who runs the Salvation Army branch on St Peter’s Court, leads the weekly church services and runs, with the help of a shrinking group of volunteers, lunch clubs and a popular coffee morning.
Norma said: “The activities we provide offer a warm welcome to people looking to find support and friendship in Whitby, particularly during their golden years.
“During the festive season we had generous support from our community, from donations of toys and food for those in need to people volunteering their time to help us out – including cooking Christmas dinner for almost 50 people.
“We are at the heart of our community in St Peter’s Court.
“However, we would like to widen our network of support and friendship to others who would attend activities, if they could only access transport, and to develop the small core team of helpers we have to cook for the luncheon club.”
Margaret Abbott, who is in her 70s, and her husband Bill first accessed Whitby Salvation Army activities three years ago.
They had moved to a house that would provide easier access for the couple as Margaret has mobility issues and Bill is housebound.
The friendships Margaret has made through the craft and luncheon clubs have been a lifeline for her. She attends the weekly craft and lunch clubs and Bill even benefits from the lunch club with a visit from the envoy and a hot meal delivered to his home.
Margaret said: “Attending the Salvation Army activities has opened up my life again. Where I lived before, I didn’t get out at all and felt hemmed in.
“Straightaway when I came to the lunch club I felt welcomed – it feels like you’re part of the community and we all help each other.”
Dr Claire Bonham, who is responsible for developing volunteers for The Salvation Army, said: ‘Volunteering is an excellent way of people being able to take what valuable lifeskills they have and share them with their community, supporting people such as Margaret.
“For the past 150 years, The Salvation Army has been at the heart of communities providing practical support and a listening ear and there’s plenty of opportunities to help out, whatever your individual skill level and interests.
“If you enjoy spending time with people and have some skills you’d like to share, we’d encourage you to make contact with The Salvation Army. Your skills are valuable and the rewards of supporting others are immense – you will receive much more than you give.’
Each week The Salvation Army runs a craft club (Tuesdays 1pm to 3pm and Thursdays 7pm to 9pm), a lunch club (Thursdays from noon), a computer class (Wednesdays 9.30am to 11.30am) and a Friday Kidz Klub club for those aged seven to 13 years old (4pm; there is currently a waiting list).
There is also a fortnightly coffee morning on a Tuesday (9.30am to 11.30am). Sunday church meetings take place from 2pm to 4pm.
Norma is looking for volunteers who can to help at the coffee morning and lunch club – with particular support needed in prviding transportation and being a part of the cooking rota. She would also welcome enquiries from anyone with specific skills they would like to share with the community.
All volunteering roles are subject to relevant checks, including DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) and a food hygiene course through the church.
For more information, contact Territorial Envoy Norma Phillips on 07726 580137.