Retired nurses' volunteering milestone at Bedlington corps

published on 2 Jun 2023

Two retired nurses are marking a decade volunteering with The Salvation Army this Volunteers’ Week.

Kevin and Jocelyn Thompson, both 59, have been volunteering at the Bedlington centre for 10 years, cooking meals for the seniors’ lunch club each week, helping to pack food parcels and sorting presents as part of The Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal.

Without an army of volunteers giving up their time, the church and charity would not be able to carry out its vital work supporting struggling families, people who experience homelessness, and those who are lonely and isolated.

Arleen Thompson, Community Programme Coordinator, 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, so we want to say a big thank you to them this Volunteers’ Week.

Jocelyn and Kevin Thompson
Jocelyn and Kevin

“We run a full programme at Bedlington Salvation Army which we are only able to do thanks to people like Kevin and Jocelyn. They are 100 per cent reliable, they will turn up to do anything, often volunteering before needing to be asked.

“They cook for the lunch club, do buffets for events including our over 60s group and men’s fellowship, cook for our summer club so we can provide breakfast and lunch to help combat ‘holiday hunger’ and give up extra days every couple of months to deep clean the kitchens.

“Volunteering not only helps people in the community and keeps services running, but it also provides joy and purpose for the volunteers themselves.”

Kevin and Jocelyn’s connection to The Salvation Army goes back more than 30 years when they used to bring their daughter to the parent and toddler group. It was bringing their now 11-year-old grandson to the group when he was a baby that led to them volunteering.

Kevin said: “We started helping out peeling potatoes now I’m head chef and I’ve stood in as Santa a couple of times when the real one was poorly!

We run a full programme at Bedlington Salvation Army which we are only able to do thanks to people like Kevin and Jocelyn
Community Programme Co-ordinator Arleen Thompson

“We cook for the seniors group each week averaging about 40 meals. It’s good fresh food and we try to do something that they want and they wouldn’t get at home, the majority of people are widowed so they’re not cooking for themselves.

“We’ve just done a buffet for 30 and also did one for the Coronation. We had no experience in kitchens, but have been doing our food hygiene certificate each year so have learned new skills ourselves.

“We also help out with the food parcels. It opens your eyes to what’s on the doorstep, I thought we lived in an affluent area but you don’t know the half of it until you hear the stories of people who come through those doors who are struggling.

“Volunteering is also about socialising and meeting new people who have made us feel very welcome. We do get the sense we’re giving back. We both had caring careers working in nursing for 30 years, so when we retired we didn’t feel ready to do nothing. This is giving back to the community because The Salvation Army do a wonderful job.

“When my wife was ill, The Salvation Army were amazing. I do believe you get what you put in. Knowing there are people there that you can talk to, it was support for both of us. I would encourage anyone to volunteer. We get a lot of enjoyment from it and a lot of fulfilment.”

The Salvation Army in Bedlington provides food packs to up to 20 people a week, run a weekly seniors’ lunch club, parent and toddler groups, over 60s, messy church, film night, Thankful Friday coffee drop in and fellowship meetings. All are welcome to pop in.

If you are interested in volunteering at Bedlington Salvation Army please get in touch.

A young mum is sitting on a brown sofa with her little girl. They are talking to a female Salvatiton Army officer.

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