Volunteering for St Luke’s has become a family affair for Isaac Cowen and his mum Jackie.
Isaac, who is 26 and lives with his family in Woodseats, has Down’s Syndrome and first became part of our volunteer programme when he gave time to our Woodseats shop as part of a scheme organised by Mencap, the organisation for people with a learning disability.
That project lasted for three months and when it came to an end, Isaac had enjoyed it so much that he decided he wanted to continue the volunteer experience.
So when a weekly volunteer opportunity arose at our Abbeydale Road shop, Isaac was happy to make the move - and now mum Jackie joins him for his session every Monday morning.
A valued member of the team, Isaac’s favourite tasks range from putting stickers on books and DVDs to helping sort items of clothing and checking that all donated teddy bears and soft toys are fit for sale and have all the correctly safety labels before they go on the shop floor.
He also enjoys spending time assisting on the till - and mum Jackie says his interactions with customers have made a real impact on his life.
“He has definitely come out his shell because being here gives him the chance to talk to people,” Jackie explained.
“It’s quite a small shop and we tend to see the same people coming in regularly and they speak to him and he enjoys having a bit of a chat with them.
“I think it’s good to get people with disabilities out into the open and say that they have a right to be there.
“When Isaac first arrived at St Luke’s they had no idea what he was like but they just welcomed him with open arms.
“It’s been a case of seeing what tasks are available and saying we will give it a try and the managers and the rest of the St Luke’s team have been great - they had no preconceptions, they just want Isaac to feel like he belongs.
“It feels sometimes like people with Down’s Syndrome have to prove their worth but it’s not been like that here.
“Isaac has a busy life - he does crafts, he has the gym, his computer studies and he also acts - but I can’t see him not having the time for St Luke’s because he enjoys being in the shop.”
Our Abbeydale Road shop manager Michaela Crowther commented: “The only thing I can say about Isaac is that he’s wonderful!
“There are all sorts of jobs he can do and he demonstrates every week that everybody has a part they can play.
“He’s a great character, we can have a good laugh with him - he’s an absolute joy.”
To find out more about volunteering opportunities with St Luke’s visit volunteer