When I moved back to Colchester, after living away for over 10 years, people said I should join a sports club to meet some new friends, but I'm not interested in sports, I'm interested in people.
I joined Colchester Ladies Circle, a group of women who meet fortnightly to either socialise or put together events to help and raise money for local causes. The first project I took on was organising a carnival, which introduced me to the sense of satisfaction that can be achieved from helping others, and also the friendships that can be made when you do this as part of a team.
My husband and I also climbed Kilimanjaro on our honeymoon to raise money for charity. The challenge we faced was incredible, but our success made me want to become more involved in helping others in need.
A colleague at work told me that Emmaus Colchester was looking for new trustees and was interested in the concept of 'helping others help themselves' and 'providing a hand up, not a hand out'. I was a little intimidated at first – I have to admit I thought of trustees as being older people who are retired and have plenty of time to give – but I have come to realise that my skills are just as valuable.
I am new to Emmaus Colchester and still learning about how things work, but I have already used my skills in governance and procedural and policy planning to help document processes that take place at Emmaus Colchester. I expect this to help them manage the inevitable challenges associated with staff turnover and training and to help the companions understand their roles within the organisation.
I also hope to help the team raise awareness of Emmaus in Colchester, showing our local community how the charity works, how involved our companions are and what a big difference small gestures such as donating unwanted items, or visiting our shops, can make to peoples lives.
I really enjoy being involved in community life and attended the Federation Assembly which helped me to learn more about Emmaus’s role worldwide. Seeing so many deserving people being given a chance to get themselves back on their feet, without prejudice and without having to directly ask for money, is a reward in itself. I hope to persuade more of my family and friends to become involved with Emmaus – if only by coming and browsing through the shops, as all sales go to help the community.