Today starts a week celebrating all volunteers across the country.
This week is also aimed at raising awareness about the benefits of becoming a volunteer. As well as helping others, Volunteering as been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of those who are volunteering. I know how volunteering helped me in way that I would never have imagined. It made me feel good that I was helping someone out. It gave me back my confidence and I went on to learn new skills that I never knew I had.
We had moved due to my husband’s job. I went from working full-time and having a very active social life to living in the country with no job. It wasn’t for me, I felt isolated and extremely lonely.
I looked into volunteering and found a local Resource Centre that were looking for volunteers to help at their older people’s club once a month. I would help make tea, help with the bingo and arrange the monthly raffle. We would encourage the group to participate in some country dancing. The people who came to the group were all elderly and some very isolated. For some it was the only time they got out. We would also go on a year’s trip away which consisted of 2 nights away in a lovely hotel with lots of activities organised by the group. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.
From that group I then started volunteering with a disability group. The people in this group were amazing, to be part of such a happy and proactive group was a privilege. We also had many trips out and had some great laughs. Being part of this group, I got to know the people, discovering their personalities and looking right past their disability. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.
I then was asked to be a member of the Board of Directors, something that I would never have thought I would have done. How honoured I was to be asked. Every single member on the board was a volunteer and gave up their time for the monthly meetings.
I then trained to be a facilitator for the Rainbow group that took place at the Centre. This was for children that was going through a family separation or bereavement. This for me this was volunteering at its best. To work with these amazing children through such tough times made me feel very humble. I certainly learnt a lot from these little ones. I then went on to train to become a Coordination for the Rainbows Group where I would be responsible for the group facilitator and the children. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.
I was then asked to volunteer on the HR sub group at the Centre. I also became a member on the volunteers committee and helped to produce a booklet for the older people in the area with all useful information.If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.
Throughout the years volunteering I was very privileged to have attended numerous training sessions, workshops and open days. I helped organise various fun days, Christmas Fayre and education sessions. I took first aid courses, I took courses that came with a certificate at the end and none of these ever cost me any money – just my time. From every course and workshop, I always learnt something that I not only used in my time as a volunteer, but often in my own personal life.
I met some amazing people and it made me realise that volunteering actually did something for me. It gave me a purpose, to get out, to meet people, and knowing that my volunteering actually meant a lot to people.
The good thing about volunteering is you can choose to volunteer in an area that you are really interested in. You can often choose your hours, give as little of as many as you like. You make friends, learn new skills and for the gesture of your time can often mean so very much to someone.