Tuesday 27 June 2017

Arts and crafts volunteering at Emmaus Sheffield

Laura Emmaus Sheffield

A volunteer at Emmaus Sheffield has emphasised the benefits of giving up time to support the community.

Laura Kerr, a former Probation Officer began volunteering as a trustee at the community in South Yorkshire nearly five years ago in honour of a friend who passed away after introducing her to the charity in 2008.     

“He was an elderly gent and I would help him by way of lifts and friendship. We came along to the official opening event together but at that stage I wasn’t ready to start volunteering. I was still working at the time, so I just kept in touch through staff at the community who also had a probation background” Laura explains.

“After he passed away, I looked at how I could get involved at the community, partly to honour his memory. As a result I began volunteering as a trustee nearly five years ago. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the community, hearing about the life of staff and companions, and witnessing it grow and improve.”

Three years ago, Laura started to volunteer one day a week at the community. Initially she helped out in a number of ways: “I spent some time sorting the clothes and I also did a form of mentoring role with companions. As a mentor I’d spend time helping with literacy, going for coffee outings and even playing scrabble.”

Laura began to commit a regular slot to painting in the art room where companions were welcomed to join. “I’ve always loved art but only since retirement have I been able to focus on it so much. Each week I’m delighted for any companion to join me, to do something a little bit arty, a bit creative; as we paint and draw, we chat about anything and everything. It feels like a very pleasurable way to spend a morning. I’d describe it as art therapy in the widest sense - more so art as a social experience.”

One companion to benefit from the time spent with Laura is Michael who describes the sessions as being relaxing and therapeutic. “I really enjoy my time with Laura; the time I spend in there each week has helped me develop my drawing skills.”

Charley Fedorenko, Deputy Community Manager at Emmaus Sheffield has noticed the impact of the sessions around the community: “It is great to have a board member volunteer their skills at ground level with the guys. Laura’s art sessions have really benefited the community; as well as sharing her skills as an artist she spends valuable time with companions, answering their questions on all sorts of things from current affairs to how the board of trustees works and what they do. The guys really look forward to her coming in.”