Meet Debbie – cancer survivor and ShelterBox Response Volunteer.
The ShelterBox Disaster Relief Visitor Centre in Truro, Cornwall is a unique place, and our volunteers are a unique group – welcoming, friendly and able to ask visitors to support us through making a donation or regular giving.
They are able to share the latest information about our Response Teams and the places where they are distributing aid.
Pam is a Visitor Centre Guide & occasional community speaker. We asked her what she thinks about volunteering for ShelterBox.
What inspires you to volunteer?
‘The thought of me, being able to help people on the other side of the world in their moment of need, from here in Cornwall is powerful. It makes me feel amazing.’
What do you enjoy the most volunteering for ShelterBox?
‘Being able to share my passion for the charity with a variety of people.’
What has been the most surprising thing about volunteering?
‘The staff really value the work of the volunteers and go out of their way to involve us and make us feel part of the team.’
Is there one memory that stands out for you about volunteering?
‘During a presentation to a visiting group I was rounding up the tour by sharing some stories with them. As I got to the end of one particularly emotional story about Nepal, my voice crumpled, and I had to put my head down to hide my tears.
I looked up to find the whole room were crying with me. I realised they understood my passion for the organisation, that they had a new respect for and understanding of the work that we do. In that moment, I knew I had made a difference.’
In early 2006, David Crook was travelling in Sri Lanka when he met a man who had been devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami. He had lost his wife, a child and his tuk-tuk business and been left to raise his one year old daughter on his own.
David said: ‘He had just been re-housed and proudly showed me his new home. He was one of many who had been helped by ShelterBox and he was still using his groundsheets, blankets and cooking pots.
‘His story inspired me and although I was already a supporter, I was determined to become a volunteer.
‘In 2007 I gave my first talk as a ShelterBox Speaker and haven’t stopped since. I have just done my 600th public event for ShelterBox, and have completed 150 tours around ShelterBox locations.
‘I have spoken to groups throughout England (and even to one in Australia!) and supported large events. I’ve packed boxes, stuffed envelopes, made box handles and helped at training events.
‘I am looking forward to the exciting challenges and opportunities that the new Visitor Centre will give me to engage further with the public and share the vision that is ShelterBox.
‘I am passionate about ShelterBox and its work, believing in a world where no family should be without shelter.
‘ShelterBox’s aid to families devastated by disaster and conflict provides shelter and hope and the “glue” that enables communities to remain together.’