Last Monday I stood in for another volunteer at Citizens Advice Bureau.
One woman client found herself in a rather complicated web of misfortune: separation, having her benefits docked, debt, etc.
Another was left with no money to feed her gas meter and to buy food to feed her young children.
In the first case the client was not properly briefed by Job Centre Plus what the implications of her savings were. Neither did the bank help in advice and counselling.
In the second the woman was messed around by civil servants who cut all her and her disabled husband's benefits because his social worker was trying to apply for more benefits to cope with his increased disability.
How could they stop payments before a new decision has been reached? What do these claimants live on meanwhile?
Eventually we decided to give the second woman some money from another charity available to us. She was very grateful.
What surprised me most was her near instant response that when she gets her benefits back on track she would give this money back to charity.
I have met lots of nasty people in my voluntary role here, and this response was heart-warming.
I said she had better sort all her debts out first. Then when the children have become successful, or when she becomes successful, then please do not forget to think about doing something for charity.
Of course, of course, she said.
As for the first woman she has already been thinking of volunteering. She may be on benefits. She may have a school-age child to look after, but she wanted to do something to help others, and in so doing, help herself along the way to a proper job.
Charity is like that. We sow seeds. Some time in the future, we hope to reap a harvest