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‘My new lease on life’. Julie Chancellor – ACE volunteer for Your Local Pantry

ACE Volunteer - Julie.

I started volunteering with the Pantry around August last year. I got into it because I’ve got nuisance neighbours living above me and I’ve got a few ailments and I wasn’t sleeping. I was really, really down, really depressed. I was talking to the pharmacist (based in Westways surgery ) about all my problems. She introduced me to Lynette from wellbeing, based at the Dusty, I started seeing her once a week, which made me feel a lot better in myself. Lynette told me they were looking for a volunteer to do the Pantry and asked me if I would be interested and I said I would love to.

This is the first time I’ve volunteered. I’ve always worked but not for years due to my ailments. I went on the sick with depression originally when a partner of mine passed away and I’ve been in a bit of a slump for the last 8 years since my father passed away on boxing day 2012, I’ve had a lot of problems with my hips and knees, I’ve had one hip replacement and bone graft under my knee on my right side I will have to have the same done on my left side at some time, so I haven’t been out and about for years just in a slump of depression.

So this has been lovely, to be honest with you. Although it kills me and I can’t move when I come in after a day in the pantry, I’m in bed for the next day, I do love it, it really has made my life a lot happier.

For a start, just getting out of the flat, making friends, we have a good old laugh – they are my kind of people. They are a lovely bunch of girls and lads there, we have a scream while we’re working. I actually come home and feel a bit down again, until the next Tuesday when I’m bright as a spark from the time I wake up thinking I’m going down there today. Although it’s hard work, I love it. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. And it does make me feel better, it gives me exercise because I take a long slow walk there and I’m on my feet when I’m there, and my sister picks me up after.

It’s nice to think we’re doing something for someone else. I’ve always loved helping people anyway, my whole family is the same, and it gives you pleasure to do something for someone else. It’s kind of brought a new lease of life for me, a little bit of hope there that life’s not over. 

Because I’m a member of the pantry, they were delivering through my window to me through the lockdown. I don’t know how many weeks I wasn’t allowed to go down there but then Caroline, who organises most of it, said ‘do you fancy coming back?’ and I said ‘Yes!’

I’m hoping to carry on with the Dusty, and as the restrictions stop, I’d like to go back to swimming again. Through the lockdown I’ve been doing cooking for people who are going out to work and haven’t got a chance to do a decent meal. We’ve had a lovely joint of beef from the pantry last week and I cooked a big beef dinner for everyone and I’ve just had my third little cooked dinner from it. I’ve made some meals and taken them into the pantry and given the girls the recipes. I’ve also been involved in a little group about time credits, which I’m enjoying, and I’ve got some ideas to try to get more businesses involved in time credits.

It really does feel like a new lease of life. In fact, I haven’t been on holiday for years and years, and I’ve been having a look at a little break away to see if I can afford it in this country. It’s made me think of things like that, it’s made me give myself a kick up the backside and think let’s enjoy life while you’ve got it and start doing something.

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