Set in a breathtaking 110 acre estate lies a beautiful retreat in the North East of England called Minsteracres. The retreat centre, housed in historic buildings, draws people from across the country to join in group or individual retreats, or simply take time out. With a Christian community at its centre, Minsteracres is open to anyone who share its values – of all faiths or none. It is also available as a venue for self-led groups, with a variety of rooms for individual hire.

What many people don’t realise at first when they visit Minsteracres, is that many of the staff are volunteers who are enjoying the peaceful surroundings whilst offering exceptional hospitality to the visitors at the centre. There is a wide range of volunteering opportunities available such as gardening and housekeeping to dining room hospitality and outreach support. The dining room is solely staffed by volunteers in Northumberland which is where many of the visitors are greeted by the friendly volunteers, whether it be at breakfast or during their evening meal, making all of the guests feel welcome and at home.

Minsteracres have a new gardening scheme which won’t be up and running till spring next year but already, they have a list of volunteers who are keen to help. The scheme will involve using the walled garden on the estate which was formerly used by another charity, Daybreak, and transforming it into a new market garden. Many of the volunteers enjoy working and helping with the outdoor grounds as it’s such a peaceful area.

As well as the gardening and dining volunteers, the housekeeping team are always working hard with 80 beds and 65 rooms to turnover weekly to ensure the rooms are presented well for the next guests.

Many of the volunteers return regularly to join new schemes and events as they get the chance to be part of a friendly team whilst learning new skills and making new friends. Pauline Simpson is one of the volunteers who has been working at Minsteracres for many years, “I love seeing the transformation from when visitors arrive harassed to death for their visit, and then see you them when they leave – they look like different people! My 15 year old grandson calls it home.”

There is no age limit for volunteering in Northumberland at the countryside retreat. There are people as young as 17 up to 82 year old who are currently on the volunteering list. The recruitment process is streamlined, if you are interested in joining the team you can go along to the centre for a chat and Jean Haldane, the volunteer co-ordinator, will see which role would best suit you. If successful a DBS check is arranged as there are sometimes vulnerable groups on the estate, then you get to meet your new team. For more information regarding the volunteering scheme or the retreats available, visit www.minsteracres.org today!