Minsteracres is recruiting new volunteers at its open house in May.

Set for the first bank holiday Monday, along with teas and tours visitors will be invited to have a look at the wide range of volunteering available at the retreat cente.

“We have really broadened the opportunities available here in recent years,” says Jean Haldane, volunteer coordinator. “We have always relied on volunteers in the dining room but now they are helping our housekeeping team, managing our 110 acre estate and providing outreach support to people in need.

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“Recently we have even found help to collect and input data, collating visitor evaluation forms, updating our contact database and collecting statistics on volunteer hours. We always say that if you have a skill we can probably use it!”

The open house will offer an opportunity to meet other volunteers, talk about what they get up to and to see some of the areas they might work in. In additon to tours of the house and displays, visitors will have the chance to visit the Peace Garden and the grounds where they can see what other volunteers have already achieved.

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“The work, particularly in the grounds, can be as light or as heavy as you choose. Though one of our conservation volunteers likes to joke that people join thinking they’re going to be doing a bit of light weeding and find themselves given a shovel and a shock!”

Everyone involved is aware of the difference their contribution can make. Tess Gooch from the outreach team says, “It’s a chance for our clients to be themselves, not to be constantly looking over their shoulder. It’s great to hear them laughing!” Moira Waugh adds, “You can see their demeanour lift. Some of them say that here they can sleep for the first time.”

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One dining room volunteer, 19 year old gap year student Barabra Rindsfusser from Germany, says, “It’s been nice to meet older people who are interested in you and what you want to do with your life. It’s really nice when people appreciate what you do for them too.”

There is no specified time commitment, people can come as often as they can manage, and our teams can be flexible in allocating work. Housekeeping is a relatively new to volunteers, but supervisor Maggie Main says, “If people don’t feel up to the more strenuous jobs, there’s still the public areas to vacuum and dust, and if they could commit to anything from the odd hour to a day or two, that’s just great.”

“The companionship and camaraderie obviously pay off. In the first nine months of last year, our volunteers gave 15,772 hours which at the living wage equated at that time to almost £124,000. Not bad, eh?” says Jean.

More details of the open house event or volunteering, contact Minsteracres on 01434 673248 or e mail info@minsteracres.org.