When former head teacher May first retired, she visited older people from her local Salvation Army church to offer them a listening ear and friendly face.
Now she volunteers at the BHI Community Project – a weekday drop in for people who are in need in the community. They are open from 10 am to 4.15 pm Monday to Friday, and also open on Sunday ahead of the church service at Boscombe Salvation Army in Palmerston Road, Bournemouth. At the project May makes cups of teas and her renowned “May Day” – a sandwich, sausage roll, crisps, cakes and biscuits extravaganza each Wednesday - and is a friendly face to support and give guidance to the people who come through the drop in’s doors.
Sometimes, when it’s very busy in the centre, people affectionately shout “May Day”. On a Wednesday, after working hard in the kitchen feeding up to 75 clients, May runs a Bible discussion group for about half a dozen people.
The drop in offers people a warm shower and clothes, if they need them; there’s a pool room, television and two washing machines, as well as access to counselling, the Citizens Advice Bureau and other agencies, depending on their need.
May often takes people down to the Jobcentre to give them support as they look for work. She said: “We’re there for people who are homeless as well as those who are depressed or struggling with panic attacks, addictions, anyone who has a problem really.
“It’s so worthwhile – seeing people grow and develop and recover from their problems. I started volunteering here three years ago when it first opened – with my husband Vic who passed away two years ago. It’s a fantastic place and we really are like a family.”
Good neighbours & befriending
Reaching out to serve lonely, isolated, struggling members of the local community