Retired police officer and street pastor Diana Boyles has been volunteering in our Nantwich shop since last year, but has been volunteering in the wider community for many years.

Diana’s first volunteering role was at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, which she really enjoyed.

“Since then I have had two periods volunteering with refugees, one in Athens for 3 months and again in Calais. I am passionate about how many refugees there are across the world, and having worked with them face to face, it is clear that the world, including the UK, needs to take more responsibility for the millions of refugees worldwide,” she explains.

“I volunteered last year for Oxfam at four festivals, both as a steward and also a campaigner. I loved having the opportunity to go up to strangers and talk to them about the Oxfam campaign, which was then ‘second hand September’. They were asking festival goers to consider their clothes purchases, and to commit to not buying any new clothes in September.”

Real need

This got Diana thinking about the importance of reusing clothes, and it was a natural progression to then become a volunteer in her local Hope House shop in Nantwich.

“Hope House is a charity that serves a community in real need, who don’t get support necessarily from the state,” says Diana.

“I really enjoy working with the other volunteers and engaging with the shoppers who come in. There is a regular crowd who seem to come in and it’s nice to see them and try to show off the shop produce in the most attractive way in order to raise funds for Hope House.”

During the Coronavirus crisis, Hope House and Ty Gobaith shops have all temporarily closed, but Diana has kept very busy volunteering at her local food bank, which has never been needed more. 

“The foodbank feeds so many families across Nantwich and the surrounding area who have been forced into food poverty,” adds Diana. 

“Many people are only one pay packet away from needing a foodbank and it has become, unfortunately, a key part of the service offered to families needing help. Since the lockdown, most of the volunteering that I do has been stopped, but the food bank work has got even busier. 

“We have changed our mode of working and now deliver food to families rather than them coming to us. The feedback from clients have been overwhelming as many were particularly desperate for help. It has been good to be useful at a time when so much of our normal activity is curtailed.” 

Vital role 

Diana’s story completely underlines the vital role that volunteering plays in all our communities, and how the gift of time is priceless. 

Shop Manager Janet Farrington agrees: “Di is a real asset to our shop, like all our wonderful volunteers, and the work she does in the community is simply amazing. It’s such a shame we can’t all celebrate Volunteers Week together but we will definitely do something as a team when it is safe to do so.”