Meeting Emily

Despite the disruption caused by storm Arwen an undeniable christmassy tingle of excitement is slowly creeping up on us, and things at Vinnie’s are getting even busier than usual. The team are pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone feels cared for, and I popped in last week to speak to one of the newest team members, Emily, to find out how things were going.

Emily started working at Vinnie’s on the Kickstart scheme shortly after graduating from Newcastle University this summer. They clearly have the kind of ‘can do’ energy and attitude that no doubt make them a great fit here, and they didn’t hesitate to show me around the new Thursday drop in session, designated for matching clothes and larger items to the right recipients in need.

“We visit people everyday with toiletry parcels and food parcels, but people would come in on any day and we would put a package together… but there’s more demand, people looking for winter coats, winter jumpers, people and families from different hotels and hostels who are referred to us.

For clothing, or bigger requests, we need to head up and down the stairs (from the storage area) for people’s packages, and check that they like it, it’s the right size, and then head back up to switch things around if necessary. We realised that people needed more than 10 – 15 minutes, some of them needed a whole hour, and so we made the designated drop in on Thursday, and set up an appointment system to ensure everyone gets what they need.”

This is typical of Vinnie’s approach to assisting people in crisis, where as far as possible those reaching out are given the time, space, and emotional support to make their own choices, and are respected as active agents in their own lives despite difficult circumstances.

I asked Emily how they feel about their role at Vinnie’s, now that they’ve had a few months experience;

“I often find myself thinking, we’re doing good work. If the least we can do is provide food for a warm meal tonight or food for a family tonight, that’s one less thing they need to think about.”

I was brought up Christian and so my values fit well here, but one of the first things Rebecca (Centre Manager) told me is that it’s not just about Christian values (at Vinnie’s) it’s about human values.”

Like so many of our oldest charities, St Vincent’s Newcastle is a faith based organisation with a mission founded on Christian values, but it is also a living, evolving, contemporary space that considers every single person with the same due care and respect. It is a multifaith, multicultural space, that welcomes everyone regardless of age, sex, gender identity, or circumstance, and the team work tirelessly to ensure that the human values of dignity, opportunity, equality, safety, peace, and friendship extend into everything they do.

If you would like to join this fantastic team as a volunteer there are plenty of ways to get involved, especially coming up to a busy Christmas time! From supporting the Thursday sessions between 12 – 3pm, to wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts or serving in Tuesday’s cafe. Perhaps you could organise a work break-out day and volunteer as a group to give your colleagues a new insight into their community. Your time is an invaluable gift!

Many thanks to Emily for sharing their time, it was an absolute pleasure to meet up and learn from their insights.

If you are available to help in any way and would like to get involved, email to find out more.