My name is Chris. I am almost 69 and I retired here to Worcestershire from Lichfield in Staffordshire three years ago.
Throughout my life I have been very fortunate never to have been out of work and never to have been without a place to call home. I met my wife 49 years ago and we have moved 6 times and had three children. With all this, I consider myself very fortunate. Because of the work I did, I came across many people who were either homeless or socially isolated; then, it often seemed impossible to be able to find long term solutions to their problems.
When I retired I was very aware of the privileged journey I have had and I wanted to make a practical contribution to those who had not shared my good fortune. In volunteering at Maggs I was asked to assist in the work of the kitchen on one day a week. The task was simple – to help provide a cooked meal in the middle of the day which is available for anyone who calls and is willing to make a very modest payment out of their allowance.
It feels an appropriate thing to be doing at this stage in my life. I continue to be aware of the disproportionate circumstances we all see as we share life in the same community. Providing meals is contributing to hospitality; it is welcoming other human beings with equality and affording them a dignity that is often missing in the experience of the homeless. There is no quick solution to many of their circumstances but there are opportunities here to find possibilities for change, or for those who can’t achieve that, to at least be treated with reasonable care and respect.
Some people ask whether volunteering is rewarding. I don’t find that a very helpful expectation. For me, the inequalities and contradictions of contemporary life are not easily resolved and we can’t salve our consciences by doing a few “good works”. What we can do is to make a practical contribution which might make life that little bit more tolerable for people without homes, friends or work. There are many other needs being addressed by other agencies – I guess we simply have to work out for ourselves where our own priorities lie, and what we feel we can do, set against the considerable privilege which the majority of us have received.
Without volunteers like Chris, Maggs Day Centre would not be able to function. We rely massively on the help of our local community to come in and help which makes a huge difference.
If you are interested in volunteering at Maggs please give the volunteer coordinator a ring on 01905739228. You can also message us via our facebook page, here.