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Volunteers Week 2021: A Q&A with Captain Wendy Brown

Volunteers working with the Salvation Army

Volunteers in West Lindsey are continuing to be the centre of attention this week as we celebrate Volunteers Week 2021.

This time, we caught up with Captain Wendy Brown – responsible for around 20-volunteers with the Salvation Army in Gainsborough.

Read on for a Q&A and a chat about her thoughts on volunteering in the community.

Q&A with Captain Wendy Brown – Corps Officer (Gainsborough) and Vicar at the Salvation Army.

What is the Salvation Army and what work do you do for the community?

“We are a church, a Christian church in Gainsborough, a normal church with all the normal services that run on a Sunday for instance. The Salvation Army is very much a social action church, better known for their social work and their emergency response.

“We are very much out in our communities. The Salvation Army has been in Gainsborough for 135-years this year, which we will be celebrating in October, and we have been out working in the community for that long. How we reach out has changed differently over the years – now we have our food bank, which has been a massive thing during the pandemic, and has been the only thing running throughout the entire pandemic.

“We also do school work, funerals and weddings just like any other church, and we also run community programmes. Further to that, we have a charity shop – which we have up on Queens Way, in Gainsborough, which provides a service to those within the community."

How many volunteers are currently working for the Salvation Army and what background do volunteers normally have?

“Currently, as some of our volunteers haven’t returned yet from the pandemic, we have 14 volunteers helping us at the charity shop, two volunteers at the foodbank, and one volunteer that does some cooked meals for school children. We did have a couple of volunteer drivers but they’ve returned to their normal work now. We have around 20 volunteers that we can call on at the moment.

“That number did rise during the pandemic. The main person helping with the food bank had to shield because of his age and so we had to bring a new team in. We brought in three other people – one of which was a teenager who had just finished her A-Levels, and so she had the summer free, so she came in and was in my food bank bubble.

Some of our volunteers live in Lincoln, some live in Misterton, and some live in Gainsborough, so some do travel in to volunteer. It can be any age group – currently we have some students on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme helping out in the charity shop. We have volunteers aged from 16 right up to our oldest volunteer who is 76. They have all types of backgrounds – some are connected to the church and some are not – some just want to help out in the community.

“Anybody that is will to try something and help out – we are willing to give them a try.”

How important would you say volunteers are to the community – to any community?

For us personally, we wouldn’t be able to operate a charity shop. We wouldn’t be able to operate a food bank, and we wouldn’t be able to operate many of our activities without volunteers.

“Volunteering is all about the feel-good factor. It’s about giving something back to the community – people like to be useful, they like to say they have done something good, so it’s really about a feel-good factor and giving back.

“I think actually volunteering brings the community together. This pandemic I think has really brought that out – a lot of people have volunteered that have never really volunteered before. It’s brought communities together. People have told their friends and family what they are doing and it’s inspired them to do something.

“I think it’s essential we have volunteers because a lot of charities like us can’t run without them.”

What would you say are the main benefits/rewards of volunteering?

It gives you a buzz. It gives you a personal satisfaction that you have done something to help somebody else. It does bring people together – with a common aim. I think it makes the community stronger – it’s a very positive experience.

“For me personally, I enjoy seeing people achieve something they didn’t think they could do – and that person giving freely of their time and working together with others. It’s becoming part of a community, part of a team – I love seeing people working together and having an impact on our community for the better.

“Putting a food parcel together for instance, that could have a life changing impact for somebody – often people come in and tell us how important that food parcel was to them – so we let our volunteers know that this is the impact they have had on people’s lives. It gives people that real sense of achievement.”

For more information on volunteering at the Salvation Army – call up the team on 01427 616353

This Q&A is part of our Volunteers Week case studies – for more information visit the Volunteers Week website

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