Despite my full-time job, it’s really important to me to volunteer and help others. People often ask me how I fit it all in, and I’m like, “I don’t know, I just do it!” Seriously though, I think lots of people think you have to go all in, all or nothing. But, there are things you can do really flexibly. My main volunteering role is as a leader for girl guiding UK, where I run a ranger unit. I do that on a regular basis but if I just had someone who could do the administration and accounts for me, which they could do anytime, anywhere, it would make my role as leader so much easier, with more time to spend with the girls – I would love that!
I used to be a teacher, so girl guiding is a good fit for me. I was also a brownie and a guide when I was younger, so I feel these experiences really helps my volunteering role, both in terms of skills and motivation. One of my favourite things with girl guiding is that I’ve been able to develop new skills as well. Whilst it’s good to go into something feeling confident you can do it, it’s also good going into an organisation that can teach you stuff as well.
Being able to provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have the chance is a big draw for me. I’ve taken girls to do things they would never have dreamed of doing… I got one of my girls who is terrified of heights down an abseiling tower. She was encouraged by her friends, the unit, and the leaders. That had a huge impact on her confidence; she was a different girl afterwards, it was amazing. The girls are so fun to be around and that’s what keeps me going, they’re just great.
I like the regularity of ‘traditional volunteering’, but at the same time I can absolutely see the value in adhoc volunteering. Regular volunteering doesn’t suit everybody and sometimes there are just acute needs that must be met, like during the pandemic when my husband and I volunteered to help an elderly couple with their shopping, and picking up prescriptions and the like for a couple of other people.
During the main lockdown, it just made sense to me that given I was going out to do my shopping anyway and these people can’t, it’s not that much extra effort to pick up a few bits for somebody else. It started as adhoc, although after a while it became more routine as we realised how needy these vulnerable people were… we ended up doing it for months.
The people we shopped for were just lovely and they really appreciated it. They weren’t very confident using the internet so would have really struggled to get their food shopping otherwise. We are still in touch with them now, I think we can safely say they’re our friends now as well
Volunteering is just so rewarding – come and give it a try. Then, whatever makes you stay makes you stay!