Meet one of our volunteers
This Volunteers Week meet Gina, who is one of our most active volunteers.
Gina, a Laindon resident of over 30 years and a volunteer at the King Edward Community Centre in Essex, tells us about her experiences:
"My friends Marie, Trudy and I run Community Cuppa which is a weekly social gathering at the Peabody King Edward Community Centre. We had quite a turnout every week, around 20 to 25 people joined us for some afternoon tea and a chat. We’re a wonderful group of people of all ages."
Gina continues: "Before the pandemic, we'd meet at the Community Centre on Tuesdays but we've stopped being able to meet in person and we've switched to communicating on WhatsApp. Everyone is active on the chat and we all share lots of tips and updates. Trudy does birthdays so when it's someone's birthday she'll always remember to post them a message in the group. At the beginning of last year, Marie handmade a mask for every single person in the group and we delivered it to their homes.
"Normally Trudy, Marie and I would meet once a month to develop our activity programme. I love Community Cuppa because we get to do so many different things together. We've had magicians, singers, demonstrations, talks by the Dogs Trust, Police and Fire Service. We recently had someone come in to do a talk on how to avoid being scammed. We also have a quiz night on a Saturday every few months which is always good fun. Every summer we take a trip to Southend and we're hoping that by next year we'll be able to do that again."
Gina adds: "Last year, we worked with the Peabody Essex Community Development team to make and delivery Christmas hampers to go out to everyone in Community Cuppa as we couldn’t have our usual Christmas dinner at the centre. Everyone loved receiving their hamper and we were so glad to still be able to celebrate together despite being apart.
"I think a lot of people have forgotten what Covid-19 has done to people mentally, not just financially. Community Cuppa becomes another family. Since the start of the pandemic we've all stayed in touch and WhatsApp has been amazing. We’ve been sharing updates and jokes and ask one another questions about local things like whether the bus is running."
Gina concludes: "Now that we’re all getting our Covid jabs, we tell each other how we’re doing. We just can't wait to be able to get back into the centre again. My one tip for other people who are interested in volunteering is not to leave it until you retire to volunteer. If you start volunteering earlier then you’ll find what you like and it will much easier to get more involved later in life as well."
Last year over 700 people volunteered with Peabody to make a difference in their communities. For that, we say thank you for everything you do.