A day in the life of… a Camrose volunteer

Andy Taylor

Andy Taylor – Volunteer

In our last post we spoke to Charlotte our support worker to find out more about her role and what it’s like working at Camrose. Today we’re speaking to Andy who is a long standing volunteer and also a Trustee!

So, Andy, what does being a Volunteer at Camrose entail?

Since Camrose first opened its doors, its loyal team of volunteers has always been foundational to its operation.  Volunteers can get involved in a variety of tasks, dependant upon their skills and preferences, such as helping to set up and pack away equipment before and after sessions, registering clients in and out of sessions, cooking lunches, sorting out donations of food and clothing and making up food packs for rough sleepers.  However, perhaps the most important thing that any Volunteer can do is to show an interest in our clients and listen to them in a friendly and non-judgemental way.

How long have you worked at Camrose?

Since it was just a twinkle in someone’s eye! May Place House had been set up as a hostel for homeless people in the mid-90s and I became its chaplain.  Once it was well established, a group of volunteers got together to ask what should be next.  The group recognised that there was an increasing issue within the town concerning vulnerable, isolated and homeless people. The answer was to open a day drop-in centre that would warmly welcome any such people who needed it.  The Camrose Centre was born and first opened its doors in January 2008.  I have been involved in various ways ever since.

What job did you do before this one?

Actually, I was trained as a research physicist and arrived in Basingstoke with my wife Diane and our young family in 1978 to work in medical engineering at Vickers Medical, which I did for 11 years.  However, I was also becoming more and more involved in Christian leadership and I eventually went full-time with the church in 1989.  For the last 17 years, I have focussed particularly on helping folk across the town to develop a number of community projects.

What would your colleagues say are your special talents?

I am more than willing to get involved in anything that I am asked to do; but if asked, I think my colleagues would say that my best talent is in doing the washing up!

What do you find most rewarding working at The Camrose?

My heart is very much towards people who lack power, influence, money and education.  Our clients are all individual people with their own unique stories.  I love to be able to spend time getting to know them and listening to those stories.  Just occasionally, I can say or do something that makes a positive difference for them – that is particularly special.  I also love to get to know the other staff and volunteers.

Any day-to-day challenges?

Camrose presently works out of a church hall and we are most appreciative of it.  However, this means we are so limited in the services we can provide.  If we had larger premises, we could do much more, such as providing games facilities, clothes laundering, gardening, art classes, basic IT training, counselling, etc. – the list goes on and on.  We really need those larger premises!

How would you sum up your job in three words?

Challenging, fulfilling and heart-warming.