Here at Loom we’re a charitable bunch. Throughout the year a host of fundraising activities are seized upon with refreshing motivation and the money raised is matched by the company and goes towards our nominated, and local charity – Kirkwood Hospice. However volunteering is sometimes seen as a throwaway gesture by companies and individuals, it can often be seen as ‘the thing to do’ and maybe often met with the apathetic pessimism of ‘well, how much difference are they really making?’ However, the last week has proven how wrong that misconception is.

My fiancée Lisa and I have sat and watched DIY SOS for years and, while sitting there wiping tears from our eyes, we have often said if it’s ever local we’d love to get involved.

When Lisa heard the show was coming to Blackburn to create a homeless shelter for young people for the charity Nightsafe, Lisa immediately got in touch. Neither of us have a trade – I’m a Graphic Designer and Lisa works in PR! I sit behind a desk and so lacking are my DIY skills that should any such necessities require doing at home Lisa is the one armed enthusiastically with hammer in hand. What did I know about building sites? I knew they liked drinking tea, wore high vis clothing and steel toe capped boots but I was willing to lift stuff, shift stuff and simply be an extra pair of hands.

I have to admit that being issued with a hard hat and high vis vest on day one felt a little alien, but by the end of day one I and other volunteers wore them with pride. It was like a uniform to say we’re a part of this bigger project that would help provide vulnerable young people with shelter and support.

By day two, the hats were individualised with nicknames, and there were plenty of hugs and lots of banter.

Although the nine-day project was extended as timescales had slipped and the enormity of the project took hold, the morale at the site remained high.

Now don’t get me wrong, it was hard work. I have never moved so many tonnes of gravel, bags of plaster or boxes of tiles. But I wouldn’t change a single minute.

This project has proven that a positive mindset, passion and persistence can truly motivate people to achieve the unimaginable.

It was extraordinary to see a collection of people who live hundreds of miles apart sacrificing work, time with their families and pay to be part of something bigger.

I have never truly felt community spirit like this. You can see it. You can feel it. Everyone was there for the same reason – not to get on TV, but to help those less fortunate than themselves. Knackered, aching, covered in all manner of building materials I witnessed some sleeping in their work vans across the road from the site, others turning up after their day job responsibilities and working through the night!

Some volunteers had benefited from the services Nightsafe offers, some people live in the neighbourhood, and others simply lent a hand just because they were able to.

I have developed new skills, met hundreds of new friends and I have been a small cog in a much larger machine.

We achieved the impossible and it has been truly life changing for us, and also for the young people who will benefit from the building. It came at a time when we are told daily there is growing division, growing anger, growing frustration. It came at a time when around the world wars are ragingd, where knife crime is prevalent and lives are being lost to gangs and a life of crime.

So, what do I draw from this experience? Well, most importantly it restored some faith in us as a race. It reminded me that actually there are still good people willing to do remarkable things for people they have never nor are ever likely to meet. A collective of people from all backgrounds and walks of life simply coming together for the greater good, willing to put aside politics and agenda simply to help those less fortunate.

We get asked “would you do it again?” Our answer is simple – in a heartbeat!  For now though it’s back to work.


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