“Now that summer is over we know people with time on their hands start to think about how to fill it and many look for opportunities to volunteer,” says Minsteracres  volunteer coordinator Jean Haldane.

“If that’s you, you’re in luck! We have a thriving volunteer workforce active across lots of different areas inside and outdoors, but especially in our dining room.”

Minsteracres sits in 110 acres of land on the borders of Northumberland and County Durham between Corbridge and Consett. With a relatively small staff and thriving outreach and conservation programmes to add to the retreats, the charity relies on volunteers to provide the labour.

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“You meet lots of really interesting people and find out interesting things,” says Collette who has been a dining room volunteer for a couple of years.

“I found out about it from a notice in our parish magazine and I love coming here. It’s tiring, but when the day is finished you know you’ve done a good job. I’ve made friends with other volunteers too.

“I love the peace and quiet and the beautiful surroundings. If you’re working week days or weekends there’s overnight accommodation if you need it. When you’re not needed in the dining room there are great local walks from the grounds immediately around the house, to Derwent reservoir, the North Pennines and further afield.

“There are smashing retail opportunities locally too, especially at Corbridge. And let’s not forget Fr Mark’s shop – Minsteracres own emporium!”

“Although the dining room is entirely staffed by volunteers, it isn’t the only place where we rely on help,” says volunteer coordinator Jean Haldane. “We are constantly expanding our volunteer force into admin, outreach, housekeeping, hospitality and gardening. We are only half joking when we say that if you have a skill we can probably use it!

Tree planting

“The companionship and camaraderie obviously pay off. In the first six months of this year, our volunteers gave 8,344 hours of their time, which at the living wage equated to £65,000. Not bad, eh?” says Jean.

 If you would like to know more about volunteering at Minsteracres call 01434 673248 or e mail info@minsteracres.org.