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Chris's Volunteer Story
Volunteering is probably one of the best uses of your spare time available.
Don’t believe me?!
What other activity allows you to use your skills in selling to the public one day and the next, help an organisation catch up on its administration activities?
Okay… admin might not sound like fun. But the people you help are good people and you end up enjoying working with them. I’ll tell you more on that later.
I’m Chris. At the moment I am a full-time carer for my mum. She has a severe form of arthritis and her mobility most days isn’t good. So, I’m at home most of the time helping her as much as I can. When we made the decision about her care needs, we also discussed that I would need some time to me out of the house, and volunteering offered that ‘escape’.
I have been a volunteer, on and off, for over 10 years. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you about all of my experiences today. It would be too long and you wouldn’t read it. So, I’ll just talk about one role today
On a Wednesday morning I walk into the Magherafelt office of the Cookstown Magherafelt Volunteer Centre and take my seat at the Volunteer’s desk. The staff and volunteers that work here are a committed bunch. Overseeing the volunteers is Barbara. Most of you will know Barbara as she is the Volunteer Recruitment and Placement Officer. There is also Michele the Centre Coordinator, Carolyn (Volunteer Intern), Nathan (work experience student), George (very committed Chairman of the Volunteer Centre) and a whole array of other characters.
Barbara always has a task (or tasks) that need to be completed. There are a lot of volunteers, volunteer organisations and volunteer activities in the area with more new ones all the time. With all this new information the Volunteer Centres’ database needs quite a bit of management.
The source of all your local volunteer news, Volunteer Focus e-news, involves a lot of work. So I help Barbara bring together information from new and ongoing opportunities and other sources for articles for the monthly newsletter, which I’m sure you all read.
Along with the usual tasks there is always something big happening which requires an extra hand. And these extras are a good time to show off your initiative. Recently I got to help with the Volunteer Recruitment Fair. On the run up to the big day I was given the task of ensuring the social media sphere was aware of it and seeing what other advertising we could get. I’m happy that the shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter helped the message reach an extra few hundred people. And the event was given a shout out on most of the local radio stations. On the big day we arrived at Meadowbank Arena and started setting up. While everyone else worked on refreshments it was noted that we were short on chairs, extension cables and tables. I went off and asked the arena staff what they could do. The extras were sourced and the crisis was averted. I enjoyed the rest of the day, helping Barbara make the event run as smooth as possible.
I said earlier that the admin may not be fun and it can be intensive, but I have very quickly developed a friendship with the people I work alongside. And that makes the difference, I end up going into the office not just to do the work, which is important, but to have a cuppa and chat and make a difference, especially to someone like me.