Tuesday 3 June 2014

Volunteers go the extra tile for Emmaus Salford

Salford Network Rail volunteers 131122

In Volunteers Week (1 – 7 June 2014) a team of nearly 200 people from Network Rail and their partners, celebrate nearly a year of volunteering for Emmaus Salford.

The willing volunteers took on an incredible range of jobs for Emmaus Salford – after being paired up by building charity CRASH. Work included recovering over two and a half thousand carpet tiles, ceiling tiles, light fittings, kitchen units and bathroom fittings from a disused council building in Manchester, to knocking down partition walls in the planned community home at Emmaus House, Fitzwarren Street, Salford before reinstalling the collected goods.

Over 1400 hours of dedicated effort saved the charity an estimated £60,000 as the team of volunteers assisted in the conversion of the near derelict former council office building. With an initial focus on getting the shop open as soon as possible, current efforts are concentrated on making the future residents’ living accommodation ready for a summer move.

Fran Frost, project manager for Emmaus Salford, said: “I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful we are to Network Rail, its subcontractors and suppliers. We have gained their time, their expertise, their good will and hard work with such a wide range of tasks. If we had paid someone to do this, I am sure it would have taken someone a year of full time work, not to mention the materials and the tools that they have contributed.

"Managing this number of people was daunting at first, but with careful planning we made sure that each group was set a specific task, so they knew what had to be achieved. Network Rail has been incredible, making sure that health and safety was up to scratch and that first aiders were on site on each of the volunteer days.”

Volunteer and Network Rail charity organiser, Dave Steele, who works as a programme controls manager in his day job, was key in drawing on his construction knowledge said: “Knowing that my skills will help someone who has slept out on the streets have a place to live that is warm, dry and comfortable and help give them the opportunity to turn their life around, was amazing. For me, it is more about giving people their dignity starting again, as opposed to hand-outs. I’ll definitely be volunteering again and I’ll be popping in to the community’s shops too.”

Janet Jones, a team organiser with Network Rail described her volunteer day with Emmaus Salford as  “a rewarding experience”, going on to add: “Seeing how much we achieved in a short space of time for this amazing charity and being part of the team of enthusiastic volunteers was fantastic and I would recommend anyone, whatever their ability to get involved. ”

Charlie Fidler, alliance co-ordination manager, volunteer and Network Rail charity organiser “I volunteered for Emmaus Salford as it is an all-encompassing charity, in that it doesn’t just provide shelter or food, but it gives people the opportunity to start re-building their lives with support from others who have previously been in the same predicament. They will have somewhere to sleep, eat and work and help the community around them.

“If any of my family or friends or I, were to find ourselves in the same position then I know there is somewhere to go that will not judge but will provide more than just basics, but support and guidance too.”

Network Rail volunteer Lindy Gilbert, document controller at Network Rail, said: “It is an easy option sometimes to dig into your pocket and pull out a nominal amount to help a charity. The charity benefits and you walk away with a sense of ‘well being’.

“However, donating your time is something we all find increasingly difficult to do with the demands of modern life and trying to maintain a work life balance."

Ryan Richardson, projects and resources manager from charity CRASH, said: “We pair up suitable corporate volunteers with the right charities, and this partnership certainly seems to have been beneficial to both parties, as the volunteers can see the results of their hard graft right before their eyes.”

The Emmaus Salford group already runs two shops, one in Seaford Road and the other at Emmaus Salford in Fitzwarren Street, with the income from donated goods going to support the community’s residents, known as companions. The first companions are due to move in later this summer, once Network Rail completes their anniversary of volunteering work on 25 June by painting companion bedrooms.

To find out more about CRASH go to www.crash.org.uk

If you'd like to volunteer for us, why not take a look at some of the positions available?