Did you know a female baby stork is also known as a storklet? Well, today I spread my wings and grew into a fully-fledged stork.
I have to admit, I hadn’t volunteered for a while, but as Nicola, the inspiration behind Stripey Stork, reassured another volunteer: “That’s absolutely OK, we understand that people have busy lives. We just appreciate any time you can give and our door is always open”. So, there was only one thing left to do, put my apron on, roll up my sleeves and get stuck in!
And get stuck in I did! An urgent request had just come in from Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid (RBWA) for a mum of three girls who had recently arrived at their refuge. She had fled a domestically violent relationship, and all they had were the clothes they were wearing and one small holdall between them. So, whilst their support worker Emma waited with anticipation, we sprang into action and the list was divvied out between the team of volunteers who set about making the all-important packs.
I couldn’t help but imagine how happy the girls would be when they received their bundles full of clothes and toys, which will go a long way to helping them get back on their feet. Every referral pack sent out includes a book bag for each child full of age appropriate books. In this particular case, mum had specifically requested some educational books so she could read with her children, until they are settled back into their school again. And of course, Stripey Stork never forgets mum! A lovely pamper gift set was included, such a special touch. At a time when her energy must be consumed with the well-being of her children, this will be a much-needed boost for her to find the strength to begin their new life. As I helped Emma load the items into her car, I couldn’t help but feel a tad emotional.
Now the rush was over, next on the list was a cuppa, where I had a nice chat with some of the regular volunteers here at Stork HQ. I also used this opportunity to bring out some pre-loved items from home which my children had outgrown, I know the heelies will make some deserving child’s day.
Then it was back to work, making up a bundle for the Reigate and Banstead Homelessness Prevention Team. They had a family who were at risk of being made homeless in the next week. Stork to the rescue! I raided the shelves once again to find the baby and 9 year old girl enough clothes to last them a week, as well as a full bag of toys each and a teddy for the little one. I was most impressed with the systematic arrangement of stock, everything is clearly labelled on shelves and neatly packed in pre-sorted bags, which makes it so much easier for the volunteers. It was also handy to have instructions pinned up at various points around the office, a good reference point I thought. It meant I could get on with the job at hand, opposed to wandering around a little confused, feeling I had to keep asking for help from Charlotte, the wonderful Volunteers Coordinator. Although she did make a point of checking in with me regularly, which was reassuring.
Myself and Rachel, another volunteer, set about making up more book bags as some age groups were getting a little low. I tackled the older children’s books and Rachel the younger, matching our skillset as it’s reflective of our children’s ages right now. We chatted whilst beavering away, feeling a little nostalgic at seeing some of the books I remember reading to my boys when they were younger. Before we knew it, the morning had flown by. A quick amble over to Project House next door, our previous abode, to drop off some pre-loved children’s winter coats which won’t be needed for a good while yet. This extra storage space is much-needed for seasonal items and campaign goodies. Is it too early to get excited about Christmas and Santa Stork yet?
My shift had sadly come to an end, but I felt safe in the knowledge that it was three hours well spent. I had that feeling of immense satisfaction you get from having a good old sort out at home. I will most certainly be back with my volunteer hat on. Being a mum, and an efficient one at that (although aren’t we all?), I really felt like I was able to add value to Team Stork. From a social perspective, I can’t wait to attend the next volunteer’s lunch to see some familiar faces and also meet some new ones.
Our community really is special. Kindhearted people who see a problem, want to help and go forth and do just that! Stripey Stork is the essence of this and I’m proud to be a part of it. Oh, I almost forgot, after all our hard work, we were kindly treated to a bottle of face polish by Tropic Skincare, as a thank you for a job well done.
If you’re interested in being a part of Team Stork and volunteering your time, whether as a one-off or on a regular basis, please email Charlotte who will welcome you with open arms – firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps you have a particular skill or interest which will help our cause? Or maybe you have a quieter time coming up in your life and would like to help with one of our specific campaigns or projects? Either way, we’d love to have you on board.
Thank you to Rachel Thornhill for the beautiful photographs.