Gary was supposed to be celebrating his 50th birthday this year on the Las Vegas strip before COVID put a stop to his plans. Instead of dwelling on the negative, he chose to focus on how he could be of help. Contacting Age UK Gateshead, Gary started delivering groceries to the homebound. He was a bit hesitant, however, about phone befriending using the Volunteero app.
“I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to tech and all that...But I thought it was very easy to use... I have nothing but praise for the simplistic nature of it and the fact that every base was covered.”
Before his work with charities, Gary used to be a buyer for a department store, something he ultimately found tiresome and unfulfilling.
“I just packed it all in and decided to become a fundraising manager for a learning disability charity and absolutely adored it, fell in love with it.”
Eventually, he took a position building up a charity called Countryside Learning. The organisation’s mission is to bring urban-based students to farms and country estates so that they can experience nature and learn about the environment. Just this week, they are restarting after a pandemic pause. Their recovery curriculum might be just what is needed to help students re-engage with an outside world that has been rather frightening, as of late.
When not working, Gary and his partner can be found walking the countryside or coastline with their beloved Labrador. Although they miss traveling, dining out, and participating in cultural events, Gary recognises that the pandemic’s challenges hold a potential positive.
“It would be lovely if during this period of time people consider what is important... All the stuff you take for granted, like seeing your parents, seeing your family, which was taken away from you, becomes what is important.”