Sam, Mel & Helen, Community Hub Volunteers – Volunteers’ Week 2023

Visit the Crafty Fox Cafe ‘n’ Hub in Foxhole any Friday morning and there waiting to serve you will be Sam, Mel, and Helen each living proof that volunteering is a two-way thing.

All arrive around 9.45 to prepare the café and get the soup on before people arrive for the weekly Warm, Meet, Eat and Greet, which attracts dozens of people from 11am.

Samantha Fourie, 52, who has lived in Foxhole for 20 years has been volunteering at the Crafty Fox for the last 18 months: “I like helping people and it is nice to see that people appreciate it,” she explained.

“I was at a loss, just sitting home running after my mum and dad. Then I was invited to join the knitting group at the café and was introduced to the world of volunteering from there.

“It is very rewarding. You get at least as much out of it as you put in. You get to meet so many people, I think it is fantastic,” she said.

Melanie Atkins is in full agreement and would go as far as to say volunteering changed her life: “I really enjoy it, so much so that when I gave it up for a while to concentrate on my business, I missed it and had to come back.

“Not only does volunteering help me with my depression, but it also gave me the boost and confidence that I needed to set up my own craft business.”

The 43-year-old mother of three moved to Foxhole after being in an abusive relationship and had confidence issues until she plucked up the courage to walk through the café doors.

Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, volunteering and setting up her Mel’s Melts Candles and Gifts business that trades out of a friend’s gift shop, Lollipops and Roses, on Paignton seafront.

Now she volunteers twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, can look back on many happy times in the past, and is looking forward to getting married again later this year.

Helen Webb’s volunteering began at CentrePeace in Paignton two years ago before she transferred her efforts to the Crafty Fox where she now helps out twice a week.

“I was suffering from anxiety and found that volunteering helped with that. I love meeting up with people and I can see that some come in feeling a bit low and leave feeling a bit better having had a chat and some refreshments.

“I like seeing people happy and that also makes me feel happy. Often, I will give someone a hug and that gives me a lift too. We both benefit,” she explained.

Helen, 69, married with one son, has one piece of advice for anyone thinking about volunteering: “Yes, do it. Go for it. I pushed myself to do it and I am just glad I did, I have such a good time.”