Giving something back

VALUABLE EXPERIENCE Oxfam online volunteer Abbie Green. (D513A323)
VALUABLE EXPERIENCE Oxfam online volunteer Abbie Green. (D513A323)

University student Abbie Green is preparing for a career in fashion and Gordon Connor has been retired for more than a decade.

At first glance, the two don’t seem to have an awful lot in common.

But they are among a legion of volunteers throughout Kirklees who regularly give up their time to help others.

Gordon, 75, has been an information and advice volunteer with Age Concern Kirklees – now Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees – for the past 11 years.

“I wanted to something when I retired,” he said. “I went along to Volunteering Kirklees over in Huddersfield and it happened that Age Concern Kirklees, as it was then, was looking for someone on information and advice.

“It struck me as something that might be interesting and totally different to what I had done before.”

For 19-year-old Abbie, joining the team at Oxfam Online in Batley was a chance to gain valuable experience.

She said: “I’m studying Fashion, Communication and Promotion at the University of Huddersfield and I wanted to have some experience of working in fashion. Apart from retail, I’ve never had that before and I thought it would be good to be doing something for a good cause too.”

Abbie, who has been volunteering since last September, sifts through donations to find items for the charity’s online shop.

“If anyone is interested in fashion, it’s very hands on work,” she said. “I have to pick out the clothes I think will sell, mainly high street. I use basic photography skills I’ve got to take pictures of the items and write up a description for the online shop.

“It’s really nice to have found something that benefits me, but I’m glad that I’ve managed to do something for a good cause at the same tome. It’s such a large organisation and it’s nice to be helping so many people.”

While Abbie doesn’t get to meet the people Oxfam helps through her role, Gordon sees the benefit of his contribution every time he helps a visitor to Age UK’s office in Batley Resource Centre.

Gordon, of Moorland Drive, Birkenshaw, said: “We’re there and we’re glad that we’re able to help them.

“We do things like benefits checks to see if they’re entitled to pension credit or other benefits, and help people with filling in claim forms. It can be the simplest things like asking when winter fuel allowance is paid or more complex issues like taxation.

“A classic phrase people use is ‘I manage’ but then you find out they’ve got some quite major problems with thing like their mobility.”

He said the work he does can be frustrating at times, particularly if you can’t help someone as much as you would like.

But enjoying his role and working with others at the charity has kept Gordon volunteering every week.

“When people are successful with claims and you can see what a difference it does make to them that feels very satisfying,” he said. “I think I get more out of it than I put into it.”