Long-term volunteers give back to their community through Wesley Retail Wallsend

Every Wednesday, Jan, who’s now 78, hops on a bus then a train, just so she can volunteer at Wesley Retail Wallsend.

“I really do enjoy it. I like to think that I’m helping a little bit – trying to do my bit in people’s lives,” Jan said, who’s been volunteering for 16 years.

And she is. Jan’s known by many regular shoppers for her warm smile and readiness to have a chat.

Jen too is known for her willingness to start a conversation with anyone who walks through the doors at Wesley Retail Wallsend. Having given 23 years to volunteering at Wesley Mission, Jen finds purpose in helping people who might be experiencing loneliness.

“We get a lot of people who are just really lonely. And many know that I’m going to be in there on a Thursday, so they come in and I’ll have a chat with them. And it just makes you feel good when you know that you’ve made somebody else’s day that little bit better,” Jen explained.

Jan (left) and Jen (right) at Wesley Retail Wallsend

Wesley Retail Wallsend Store Supervisor Sheree is thankful for dedicated volunteers like Jan and Jen, who not only give their time so generously but also care for the customers who come through the store.

“They’re always obliging, always willing to get in and do what needs to be done, whether it would be sorting through donations, receiving donations, getting stock out on the floor and pricing. Whatever needs to be done they’re happy to do it,” Sheree said.

“We’ve got a lot of friendly locals that pop in all the time and they’re looking for a chat and a bit of a conversation. Our volunteers are kind-hearted and are always willing to chat with the locals.”

Both Jen and Jan said while they volunteer to give back to their community, they find the experience to be beneficial to their own wellbeing. Both enjoy the opportunity to connect with people on a regular basis, develop friendships with other volunteers and people in their community.

“Over the 23 years I’ve met some really nice people. Some that I’ll never forget. It’s really rewarding volunteering. I’m just glad that I’ve done it,” Jen said.

Jan continued, “I’ve got to know quite a few of the regular customers. Even when I was in hospital a couple of years ago, one of my regular customers who’s been coming for years, rang up to see how I was. I thought that was lovely.”

Through partnering with Wesley Disability Employment Services and Wesley Mission’s Opportunity Pathways, Wesley Retail Wallsend also provides work experience to support people who participate in these programs to gain real-life employment and social skills.

“Rather than going straight into paid employment, our participants can consider volunteering here for a period of time to gain confidence and new skills, to better prepare them for their employment journey,” Nikki said, Group Manager for Wesley Mission’s Opportunity Pathways and Wesley Disability Employment Services.

Known for its affordable prices, Wesley Retail Wallsend is a staple in the community.

“It’s well-known in the area. People just know that they can come here and get a good bargain,” Nikki said.

Jan added, “There are people that don’t have a lot. This store does help people.”

Wesley Retail Wallsend’s support reaches beyond the Wallsend community. All profits made from the store are used to help people most in need through Wesley Mission’s community services.

Have you thought about volunteering?

Volunteers like Jan and Jen are vital to the day-to-day running of Wesley Retail Wallsend.

“We’re just so grateful for the time that they give us and just want to recognise their commitment to Wesley Mission,” Nikki said.

Both Jen and Jan would like to encourage others to volunteer at Wesley Retail Wallsend.

“Wesley Mission is a good place to volunteer and it’s rewarding because you’re helping people. That’s why I do it,” Jen said.

Jan added, “I enjoy helping people. And if you’ve got it, it doesn’t hurt to give time to help others.”

We’re currently in need of volunteers at Wesley Retail Wallsend. If this sounds like you and you’d like to volunteer, email Sheree at sheree.clark@wesleymission.org.au.

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