Samar Pal is celebrating a decade of volunteering with Sydney Community Services to help locals stay in their homes. Having started with gardening and meals on wheels, Samar now puts up his hand up to help set up catering for all sorts of SCS events. Last year he delivered hundreds of meals in 130 shifts and yet still finds time to sell a bargain at Vinnies on Saturday. When we spoke he was setting up afternoon tea for seven tables of four card-sharps about to arrive for their weekly bridge game (part of the Games Group which plays bridge, solo and chess).

A Lane Cove local since the mid-90s, Samar loves the convenient location and friendliness of locals whom he finds more easy-going than people in many parts of Sydney.

Samar originally came to Australia from Calcutta – via Germany – in 1976. He was still a teenager when he followed his brother to Germany and into an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. The apprenticeship served him and many Australian companies well: he worked maintaining and rebuilding bottle-making machines for ACI glass and at another company supplying mining pumps, later in hydraulics and, before retiring, worked on massive machines packing mass mail-outs. He now considers volunteering his job, and one in which he’s happy to pass on tips from his years of experience.

“I enjoy helping people who need help and also co-workers or volunteers – I especially like helping juniors or anyone who is unsure of what to do,” he says.

One tip he can’t resist giving to the younger generation is, “If you want to help, it’s a good idea to put down your phone”.