When asked what she enjoys about her role, Anne smiles:
‘it’s interesting… The people I work with are lovely – a really nice bunch! And since I’m that age, I can’t sit at home watching daytime television. It’s my idea of hell,’
she says, laughing.
Anne has been volunteering at the Pudsey branch of the Crypt’s charity shop, Preloved, for three years now:
‘it’s the advantage of retirement – you’ve got all the time you want.’ She joined the shop to help support the homeless in Leeds, and talks about how doing so was without doubt emboldened by her own experiences.
When seventeen, Anne slept rough on the streets of Bristol: ‘I had a few problems and ended up on the streets,’ she says. ‘I know it’s not a good place to be.’ She was helped when a Christian couple took her in: ‘They found me on the streets – I was only 17, and very naïve.’
Anne clearly feels thankful for the assistance she received, and in turn expresses admiration for the Crypt’s work:
‘It’s incredible that it has lasted so long. It’s been a while,’ she says. ‘They’ve got some really determined people down there.’
Like many others she feels strongly about the issues of homelessness in Britain:
‘People don’t choose to live like that – it’s the hand that fate deals them’.
In Britain, rough-sleeping has risen for the seventh consecutive year; and presently more than 300,000 people are homeless in Britain.
‘There might be the odd person who really doesn’t want to live in a house, or rejects society; but for the majority of people it’s the hand they’ve been dealt – it’s not their fault.’
She talks about a teenager she used to see in Bradford:
‘He slept in one of the doorways and I used to buy him a coffee on the way to work. Could only have been about seventeen, eighteen at most. It just seemed such a shame that he was sleeping on the streets.’
Her day to day activity at the shop is diverse, something she clearly enjoys:
‘There’s plenty to do in a charity shop,’ she says, laughing. ‘You never get bored because you’re doing something different every day. One day you can be sorting the clothes, hanging and steaming them and getting them ready to come out in the shop. Another day you might be a window-dresser. Another day you might be on the till. There are so many aspects to the place. It’s quite interesting.’
The shop is on the lookout for volunteers, and Anne explains that there is a wide range of work volunteers could do – many roles are on offer, and all are welcome.
‘So many people sit at home, bored,’ she explains. ‘And you can always get some references – it’s good experience!’
Some of the roles offered include cashier-work, stockroom work or steaming clothes. The shop sells clothes, furniture, books, films, brick-a-brac and electricals. Additionally, they accept any and all donations:
‘we’ve got a shortage of ladies tops at the moment,’ she adds.
The Pudsey branch of Beloved is located at 27, Church Lane, Pudsey, LS28 7TY, and is open from 9 to 4:30 – Monday to Saturday. The money raised helps St George’s Crypt to continue doing the vital work it performs in the communities of Leeds.