One of the region’s largest animal rescue charities, the Mare & Foal Sanctuary, today paid tribute to its army of volunteers.
The Sanctuary is supporting National Volunteers’ Week, which runs until June 7th and was launched to celebrate the fantastic people all over the country who give their time for free.
Sanctuary Volunteer Coordinator Kerri Luke said the nationwide initiative was a great opportunity to say a massive thank you to all the charity’s volunteers – and to recruit even more.
She said: “Our volunteers love helping out at the Sanctuary. There are so many different roles and places for them to help support our work, from looking after the horses and ponies on our farms to serving customers at our nine charity shops throughout Devon.
“Our High Street shops are a hive of activity with people coming and going all day. We also offer on the job training and all the support our volunteers need. Many have been with us for years and some of our older volunteers have told me working with the Sanctuary has given them a new lease of life.
“It’s also important for people who may be thinking about returning to work or who may be struggling to find a job. It can help people build their confidence, help them make friends and gain valuable new skills.”
One of the Sanctuary’s 78 volunteers is retired David Ive (71), who helps out at the charity’s shop in Kingsbridge.
He said: “I started not long after I’d retired. I had worked hard all my life and then suddenly nothing. I started to get bored with having all that time on my hands. Volunteering for the Sanctuary, you know you’re doing something worthwhile…as well as meeting new people. It’s very sociable.”
Working as a charity volunteer has also transformed the life of Luke Ford, who struggled to find work following a childhood brain injury.
He was involved in a terrible bicycle accident when he was just 12, badly fracturing his skull and leaving the 27-year-old struggling to work for more than a few hours a day.
But now he is loving life at the Sanctuary, working in the Newton Abbot shop and helping out in the charity’s warehouse.
He said: “The accident changed everything. I had been out of work for several years and I began to lose my confidence. No one seemed to be willing to give me a chance.
“It’s great to be working. I would advise anyone like me, who was starting to worry they may never find a job, to look into volunteering for a charity.”
Newton Abbot shop manager June Hooton said she had seen his confidence grow and grow, adding: “It was obvious Luke felt as though the world had left him behind. To begin with he was very quiet and reserved but the change in him has been amazing. I think it’s given Luke a purpose and we love working with him.”
The Sanctuary is always looking to recruit new volunteers and offers training for all the diverse roles on offer.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Sanctuary should visit the website at www.mareandfoal.org for more details and an application form. Alternatively email Kerri at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.