Gateshead 'volunteer army' thanked for service to community
published on 5 Jun 2023
Gateshead Salvation Army is saying thank you this Volunteers' Week to the 40 people who give their time to support the local community.
Thanks to this army of dedicated volunteers the church and charity is able to offer support to struggling families, people who are homeless and people who are lonely and isolated.
In Gateshead, the team provides food and hygiene packs to up to 120 people a week, run a weekly seniors’ group, breakfast café, free chiropody appointments, a parent and toddler group for 40 to 50 families, kids and youth groups, Roma church, and much more.
Ann Humes, community manager at the Gateshead church, which is led by Lt Tony Kakande, said: “All of our volunteers are valuable and have something to offer. They are the backbone of The Salvation Army and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them. We want to say a big thank you to them this Volunteers’ Week.
“We have lots of people who help pick up and distribute food and hygiene packs, get the hall ready for our parent and toddler and seniors group sessions, help with interpreting for people whose first language isn’t English so we can signpost people to the right support and services..
“One person I would really like to shine a light on this year is Matthew, 31, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Each week he picks up food donations from Tesco which we use as part of our Foodshare project to ensure struggling families and individuals have enough to eat. He has also started to volunteer as our tea and coffee person at the seniors’ group. He has embraced that role and is loved by our seniors for all the help he gives to them.
“He really helps us out, and for him as he likes routine, having set jobs to do is great. He knows that at The Salvation Army it’s a safe environment for him and we want all our volunteers to feel that way.”
Matthew also took part in a training session with The Salvation Army’s Emergency Response Vehicle, which provides hot drinks, food and pastoral support to the emergency services.
Ann continued: “He was fantastic. Volunteering on the van was something different and out of his comfort zone, but he rose to the challenge serving hot drinks, preparing food, cleaning the kitchen and striking up conversation with the firefighters.”
Matthew said: “It was a new experience at the emergency vehicle training exercise and I enjoyed being able to us my kitchen skills to serve the firefighters.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Gateshead Salvation Army.