As we continue our series shining a light on the fantastic work of our dedicated volunteers, we feature Cate, who is approaching a decade of service to the Good Shepherd. Take it away, Cate!
What do you do at the Good Shepherd?
I work in the area where the service users first arrive, next to the dining room, where they receive food that we are giving out that day. So, I am one of the team who sort out those goods like bread and vegetables, bagging it all up and then being at the table distributing it to people when they arrive.
Why did you decide to volunteer and how long have you been volunteering?
I will have been here ten years at the end of April. I got to a point in my life where I had more time because my children were older and I felt I wanted to do something for someone else – to give back to society. I had also had a family member who had undergone problems with alcohol and I just felt maybe I could help someone in a similar situation, even if it was just to have a chat and try and make them feel better. As a Catholic I attend St Mary and St John Church, so I already knew Brother Stephen and Brother Charles. I asked Brother Stephen if there was anything I could do and from there I started volunteering at Darlington Street. The rest is history!
What do you find the most fulfilling about volunteering here?
I think it is mainly trying to cheer people up that I find most fulfilling. When we are giving out the food, we chat to the service users and get to know them, although we do sometimes have to be strict on how much they can have! It is important to treat people with dignity and I think it puts your own life in perspective as well. We all have problems but when you see and listen to the stories of what our service users have been through, it certainly puts our own lives in perspective.
Why do you feel the work of the Good Shepherd is important in Wolverhampton?
Because there is still a lot of poverty around and with the cost of living crisis it is only getting worse. I have seen the demand grow during the time I have been a volunteer, especially over the last year. The difference in the amount of people who need the Good Shepherd now has increased a lot. I think it’s also important that we are there to talk and chat because lots of them might not speak to many people away from their visits to the Good Shepherd.
What is the most special memory you have experienced whilst being a volunteer here?
I think the special memories come from when you see people make progress from how they were when they first visited. It is difficult for them and sometimes they may go back to struggling again but the thing about the Good Shepherd is that they always give people another chance. Even with some of the service user volunteers, they have come through a lot of problems and it is lovely to see them now at the Good Shepherd helping other people. I have never met as many lovely people as I have at the Good Shepherd.
Describe the Good Shepherd in three words?
Nurturing, inspiring and hospitality.