Meet some of our volunteers and find out more about why they love volunteering for us and what they do for the Hall. Want to get involved? Read more about volunteering at the Hall here.
Before the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions came into place I was a regular volunteer for Stretford Public Hall, and even took part in the Culture Champions programme that took place there. Once lockdown came into place those volunteer opportunities were no longer available, but the Hall began acting as a Covid-19 response Hub. I signed up to volunteer immediately and began doing shopping trips weekly for vulnerable residents who were isolating, due to health problems. I also ran some ad-hoc errands, picking up parcels of food for food bank that was temporarily housed at the Hall. I telephoned friends who I knew were isolating to chat about their concerns. As I don’t have any relatives, I was lonely too, so I relied on my network of friends and they relied on me.
At the weekends I now volunteer at a charity cafe in Altrincham, I’m really enjoying the experience - I never worked in a cafe before and I like the challenge which comes with learning the new role.
I am an Elders graduate at the Royal Exchange Theatre and I have been keeping lockdown diaries and recordings. I also like to keep active with my visual theatre work which is now done over Zoom. I hope that in the coming years, my writing and recording of experiences in lockdown will be valuable to local history and culture.
John and Shirley Jackson
John and Shirley Jackson are a married couple who have lived in Stretford since 1968. They have five children and twelve grandchildren who they often bring to the hall for events and activities.
John : When we first became aware of what was happening with the building I got talking to a local about how Stretford was years ago. He suggested that we get in touch with Friends of Stretford Public Hall who at the time were trying to save it from redevelopment. Shortly after that there was an opening evening and I came down, and volunteers were doing tours around the building and it’s developed since that. We’ve been involved since then, right from the outset. The first thing that I did here with a couple of others was ripping the old office partitions out upstairs in the Ballroom and opened that up to one room again. I’ve done all sorts of odd jobs since then. When I have a spare hour here or there I’ll turn up and tidy up the car park, cutting the shrubs back. We used to organise group days where we’d all help out, but since we now have the power supply outside it’s become so easy to turn up and do a little bit here and there. In the hall, it’s a case of if something needs doing, someone lets us know, and then we can get involved. We have lots of family responsibilities, it’s nice to have somewhere to get out to for myself, where I have a purpose and give back to my community.
The memories of the Hall in its heyday made me want to get involved, with the hope and the view that it will get back to that and be a community asset. It’s just remembering what it used to be and the fact that it can be that again. As we’ve retired it’s something to have an interest in. I think when you retire it is so easy to just finish up sat behind your front door and not get out, not get to see people. When you’ve worked all your life, not doing anything suddenly isn’t good.
I spent most of my working life working in and with the community of Stretford. Volunteering at Stretford Public Hall is a continuation of that. It’s still working within the community and helping the community. I’ve met new people and made friends here. Stretford used to be a really nice place, and a lot of people are disappointed in the turn it took over the years. I think it can be a really nice place again. We’re happy to be having an active role in the regeneration of Stretford.
Shirley: Since we retired we have more time during the day when we can come in and do stuff as well as taking part in the activities here. There’s always things going on which includes children so it doesn’t restrict us from coming as we can bring the children with us.
At Christmas we always run craft activities for locals as part of the Christmas Fair. It’s something that the grandchildren and my daughters can get involved in and help. They help supervise the children and help to make Christmas decorations. I’m good with a sewing machine so I’ve re-covered a lot of cushions for the Hall, and helped out with window displays and decorating the hall for various occasions. It’s something to do and I enjoy doing it.
I’ve been recovering from breast cancer since Christmas and I wanted to host a Macmillan coffee morning to give something back to them as they’ve been so helpful and the Hall let me have my coffee morning in the foyer which enabled me to have a lot more people- at one point it was 60 people and we had to open up another room! We made £488.89 for them. Having it at the hall let me have more people and raise more money.
We’ve met a lot of nice people. I’ve lived in Stretford for years but I think I know more people around the area now through coming here than I’ve ever done. It’s such a lovely listed building with good memories in it, it’s nice to be able to help in some way to make it a community place, which there isn’t many of these days. Somewhere where we can put on events, like the well-being days that I attend, and the craft class- I’ve met so many people through the activities. The Hall gives me a purpose- I have activities I can attend and other opportunities where I can help out. It gets me out more than I probably would as I’d otherwise be sat in the house. The thing I like the most about volunteering here at the Hall is the community ethos. I’ve found there are a lot of like-minded people that think a lot of Stretford and especially this building, that may give up the time to help in some way. It’s nice to feel the friendship when you’re in the building.