Volunteering – medication for the mind and soul

Like many charities Henshaws relies on volunteers to enable us to continue to offer life-changing services for people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities. We caught up with a group of regular volunteers who between them contribute almost 2,000 hours a year of their time and talent at our Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. 

A group of four female volunteers at a craft fair stall

Annie, Jayne, Louise and Sara - Henshaws "crafty" volunteers

Photo showing volunteers crafting

Louise and Jayne keep busy crafting

Jayne has been a volunteer at Henshaws for about 6 years.  Having suffered badly after a mental breakdown she was introduced to the Arts & Crafts Centre by a friend who felt that Jayne’s extensive retail experience and interest in crafting made her the perfect person to help organise the monthly craft fairs.

For me, volunteering at Henshaws is like medication for the mind and soul.  For a while Henshaws was the only place, other than my home, where I could come and feel safe.  My volunteering relationship here is just as much about what I get from Henshaws as what Henshaws gets from me."

Jayne, Volunteer

Jayne has been able to bring together a group of like-minded people who craft together on a regular basis and whose aim is to raise both funds and awareness of Henshaws, particularly amongst the local crafting community.

Louise retired early from a career in midwifery due to ill health and turned to her long time hobby of crafting to keep occupied and for enjoyment. An expert at crochet, Louise also likes to sew and do papercraft. She joins the craft volunteers at the Centre a couple of times a week but contributes more time when things get busy.

Louise said: “A couple of years ago, I started to attend the craft fairs and then got more involved in the event organisation and with coming along to craft more regularly at the Centre. I enjoy the social element of crafting with the group of volunteers; the Arts & Crafts Centre is just a lovely place to be.  My whole family has now got involved; my mum is an avid knitter, my daughter sells her baked treats at the craft fairs, and my son, who has autism, really enjoys coming here and joining in too.  The Arts & Crafts Centre is just a lovely place to be, it offers a very understanding and accepting environment.”

Sara is a more recent member of the group, she said:  “I really enjoy joining the group for a bit of crafting and a chat.  I come along once or twice a week to help make products for the craft stalls and also to help coordinate the craft events.  Being part of such a welcoming and friendly group is lovely – it’s great to be able to do something I enjoy and gives me pleasure whilst also doing something of benefit for others.”

Annie used to work at Henshaws Specialist College so already knew quite a lot about the work Henshaws did supporting people with visual impairments and other disabilities.  Annie said: “I’ve always painted and crafted and when the time came for me to stop working I really got back into painting again.  Now I run my own small business making and selling notebooks but I like to share this skill to help raise money for Henshaws too.  It’s nice to come in and be able to be creative and make things in a social setting – there is no pressure which makes it really enjoyable and it’s all for a great cause of course.”

If you’re interested in joining our team of fantastic volunteers, have a look at our current volunteering opportunities or email us on volunteer@henshaws.org.uk.

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Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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