The benefits of volunteering at our charity shop for Pat

27th January 2015
Fair Shares Ltd
Moving to a new area in your 70s can be challenging – even if you’ve chosen it because you know you’ll feel at home there.

For Pat, the Stroud area appealed because she is an environmental campaigner and lover of organically-grown local food. But what has really helped her settle in so quickly, and so completely, since moving to Stonehouse from Devon last year, was joining Fair Shares.

“I saw the Fair Shares shop in Stonehouse and popped in to find out more,” she recalls. “What appealed to me immediately was the Fair Shares community allotment, and I immediately signed up to help out. I’ve learned so much from the allotment group and benefit from friendships with the other people involved – and the fresh veg!”

Pat attends the regular Fair Shares meetings where the group decides what they would like to do, sharing and planning ideas for activities.

“Fair Shares is a brilliant concept; it brings people together and develops a very strong community spirit. I don’t know how I would be feeling now if I hadn’t joined. I certainly would not feel as connected to the local community, and wouldn’t be as secure or as happy,” she says.

As an older person, Pat really appreciates the friends she has made in the Fair Shares group and the opportunities to try new things. “Very quickly, I have built up a group of very dependable friends who I feel I can contact if I need any help; they offer me lifts in the evenings, and we go on outings together. It’s like having a security blanket – I’d urge anyone to join because it is such a fantastic idea.

“I’ve been involved in lots of community initiatives over the years and I firmly believe the reason Fair Shares works is because we have a paid co-ordinator – which is essential. Chris Moore is a great co-ordinator – he seems to know everyone!”

Through Fair Shares, Pat also volunteers with her friend Anna at a local sheltered housing unit, leading singing sessions and helping the residents enjoy life more. “Anna and I met through Fair Shares, and we have just clicked! We have a great friendship, and we are always coming up with new ideas. With Fair Shares, you feel you are never alone.”

Pat moved to Stonehouse to be nearer her son and his young family in Bristol. “Now the children are growing up, I’m not needed quite so much for baby sitting and other grandchild duties, so I have more time for myself – and thankfully, I have the Fair Shares group!”

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