Retired Greyhound Trust
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Sara

Perry Barr Volunteer.jpgA Birmingham charity worker who used volunteering at kennels for homeless greyhounds to get over the death of her partner who had guided her away from a life of addiction to drink and drugs has been chosen to profile the invaluable work of volunteers across the country.

Volunteers are the backbone of a charity like the Retired Greyhound Trust, so the organisation has launched a campaign to profile its volunteers from across the country in the run up to Volunteering England's official celebration of volunteers, Volunteers' Week in June.

Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust volunteer Sara Pillinger, aged 32, from Sheldon, lost her beloved boyfriend Rob two and a half years ago after a sudden heart attack.

Rob had devoted his time to helping her fight back from a life of addiction, depression and anxiety.

"When Rob died I had been clean for more than five years. I was still very anxious about meeting new people or being in groups of people, but life was good. We had just come back from holiday in Rhodes. Then he died of a heart attack. It was so sudden.

"I was lost. I didn't know what to do with myself. I became a recluse. I didn't want to see anyone or speak to anyone, and I didn't for months and months. I could not even go to the local shop," she said.

Eighteen months ago Sara's counsellor dropped her off at the Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust's kennels in Solihull and she says the rest is history.

"The dogs have really helped me. They are loyal, loving and they don't judge. Going to the kennels has been my lifeline. It has kept me from going back to the drink and drugs and it has helped me to get over the Rob's death. It has made me a normal person again. I don't know where I would be today if I had not started volunteering for Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust. I am so grateful to have been given a chance."

Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust finds homes for greyhounds at the end of their racing careers. Sara volunteers five days a week at the kennels from 11am to about 5pm, looking after the dogs while they are waiting for new homes. She cleans out the kennels, grooms the dogs, takes them for walks and feeds them. She has also started showing potential new owners around the kennels.

She said: "I am still a very anxious person, but this has been a great experience for me. I can be myself around the dogs and the others who help here have been so supportive. It is great to do something so worthwhile while building my own confidence and self esteem.

Welcoming members of the public who come here to meet the dogs has really helped that too. I am not quite ready to go out and find a job yet, but I am getting there. I am looking forward to that day and I will owe so much to volunteering and Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust."

Paul Williams, Chair of the Perry Barr Retired Greyhound Trust, said: "We are so delighted that Sara has been chosen to represent volunteers across our branch and around the country. She is a fabulous example and deserves every ounce of recognition for what she has been through and how far she has come. She does some fantastic work at the kennels and we thank her for that.

 "It is difficult to find good volunteers, but we are always looking for different forms of help. There are all sorts of things that people can get involved with and it is important for us that we get the right people doing the right jobs within our branches - whether it is walking a dog, putting up posters, helping us to raise funds or helping us to man a stand at one of the many shows. Ultimately, the more people who know about greyhounds and how great they are as pets, the more likely we are to find homes for them," he added.