1966 – a famous year, something about football …… but another famous event was about to unfold. The commencement of Birmingham City Mission.
John and I were ‘partakers’ in the beginning of the Mission. John was a DIY person who helped at the first BCM premises in Bromsgrove Street but he was also the first Treasurer (for a time) and we, as a family, took part in many events already recorded in the annals of the Mission.
I began to volunteer each Wednesday, when I retired, firstly marking goods donated for the foodbank with the appropriate date. This was over sixteen years ago. I graduated to sorting out the kitchenware and bric-à-brac at the former Resource Centre – a ‘promotion’ indeed!
Some incidents stand out, and one was whilst sorting mugs donated I found someone’s false teeth – a whole set! Overhearing conversations, not intentionally of course, is memorable too. One customer wanted to know who had slept on a good, clean mattress, and as the staff member did not know, the man refused to buy it unless he found out! On another occasion a lady was interested in purchasing a radio marked at £5. She proceeded to eat the small price label and then asked, “How much?” She was told that despite eating the label, it was still £5. Another time, when I had priced a number of goods, the lady customer took them off the shelf and removed all the labels. Like the other lady, she said, “How much?” Remembering all the priced items, I said, “Despite you removing the labels, the prices are still the same!” There are many more unusual meetings with customers but they would take too much time in the telling. Pricing the goods honours the donors and helps give dignity to people buying to feel they are contributing to the work of the Mission. Prices are always very reasonable.
If YOU are thinking of volunteering at the Mission, you will have a GREAT time. To meet people from other lands and to help, to laugh with them and to witness quietly by our manner and showing our concern is very rewarding. I could ‘go on’, of course, but I hope in reading this little snippet YOU might come and see what YOU can do.
Everything beautifully understated by Jean, as usual, but for once it must be said how much we are still indebted to the vision, time and effort of Edwin & Dorothy Orton, John & Jean Orton, David & Phyllis Torpey and many others like them, put into the founding and grounding of BCM, while planting a church in Kingshurst in East Birmingham through the same period.