In December 2013 Pam gave up her job as teaching assistant to students with special educational needs to take on the care of her mum Doreen who was suffering from the onset of dementia. During her mum’s decline her sister Margaret was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This was a very difficult time emotionally and physically for Pam who was driving to Bournemouth each week to spend as much time as possible with both Doreen and Margaret. Sadly twelve months later, during the Christmas period of 2014,  both Doreen and Margaret passed away within a week of each other.

“I was heartbroken at losing my mum and particularly my sister who was also my best friend” reflects Pam. “I became very depressed and didn’t know how to fill the emptiness in my life. I was lonely at home with my husband out at work every day and felt purposeless. My neighbour Ira saw that I was struggling and invited me to join her for lunch at GL11 Café.”

GL11 Cafe is a community space, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The café is aimed at bringing people together, offering volunteering opportunities, and providing a healthy home-made affordable meal to the local community.

Pam continues “I found GL11 instantly homely, a happy place with friendly people and the cafe team made me feel very welcome. This made me want to return and spend more time here. As I got to know the regulars at GL11, and vice a versa, the natural next step was for me to volunteer and support the adults with additional needs in the Adventurers and Gateway Award groups, putting to use the skills I had gained from my previous work experience.

Volunteering at GL11 has given me a purpose and it is great for the soul to feel wanted. I feel that the Adventurers group give me back far more than I give to them. I go home happy every day that I am here, so much so that I have encouraged my husband Malcolm to volunteer here too.

We travel abroad a lot and GL11 allows us to do that. I have found from previous experience that other volunteering opportunities elsewhere rarely offer this level of flexibility.”

Marion Lloyd, Volunteer Coordinator at GL11, explains “GL11 has a long history of volunteers who are central and vital to the successful running of our community hub. In summer 2018 we won the prestigious Queen’s award for voluntary service which is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. Volunteers are the lifeblood of GL11 and Pam is a wonderful example of this.”

Volunteering at GL11

Our 2017/18 annual highlights report showed that our volunteers donated 4050 hours of their time. Volunteering roles include preparation and serving of food in our café, reception cover, gardening and maintenance, supporting a variety of our courses and activities, such as the walking group, ukulele group and job club.