YMCA BURTON UPON TRENT & DISTRICT

Kath Stokes – Retiring

Kath Stokes – Retiring
April 27, 2021 CWan-Docksey

My name is Kath and I have been asked to write a blog. At first, I thought “What’s that?” – me being one of the oldest members of staff and probably the longest serving, I wasn’t brought up with technology – you just ask my colleagues!

As I near retiring, this blog felt like a good way to reflect on what I have done here at YMCA.

I started working here in 1988 at the Milton House site which was our first project to be built. There were two staff members, myself, and Tony Gratton. I was employed to clean the communal areas then also the resident’s flats when they moved on.  In those days, the residents seemed to stay longer. I also took on other duties such as gardening and general maintenance of the property.

Back in those days, the manager of Milton House lived onsite and the doorbell would be ringing constantly.  There were no computers and everything was handwritten including the individual rent books! Collected rent money was taken to the bank to be deposited.

One of the main fundraising events then was the “Paper Caper” where the staff encouraged their family, friends and local people to collect paper which got weighed in to raise money, it was a real community effort to fill the skip!

The Burton Carnival was another main event for YMCA Burton and I helped to run several stalls there over the years which included a coconut shy and beat the keeper.

In 1995 James Court was built, I remember watching it develop week by week. I was asked if I wanted to do the domestic duties there too. In 2002 we opened George Williams house and I was asked to do the domestic duties there too but this time there two of us which was a great help.

As well as domestic support I have done other jobs throughout the years, which have included reception work, helping to deliver furniture and collecting food with our facilities manager Tom Foster. We have worked together for many years and are firm friends.

Over the years the need for more accommodation and support for vulnerable people has grown and we have gone from 20 flats to 71 across the three sites. The homeless population within Burton had also grown so much that in 2011 we opened the Reconnect project at James Court.

Here, we offered advice, support, lunch clubs, and also laundry and shower facilities too. Reconnect also has our foodbank and mediation services and our clients now receive counselling too.

Thirty-three years have gone by so quickly. I have met so residents, some of who have been very broken and have watched them grow in confidence and move on to have a better life. It puts a smile on my face to know I have always been there to lend a listening ear and a reassuring smile when needed.

I am going to miss all the friends I have made over the years, I count myself lucky to have met some real interesting characters and also made some lifelong friendships too.