The buzz I get from volunteering

By CCVS volunteer Amy. January 2022.

Hello! My name is Amy and I volunteer with Ellie at CCVS.

Together we work towards promoting volunteering and removing barriers that stop people from getting involved in community projects. Part of this voluntary work also involves writing articles for this blog, which aims to show and share my perspective about volunteering, what it means to me, and most importantly to encourage others to get involved in their community.

I have been doing voluntary work for 8 years in various roles with different groups and organisations and much enjoy what I do, from helping in a charity shop, to organising social events and assisting in Tai Chi classes.

You might wonder why I enjoy helping others and dedicate so much of my time and skills to my community.

Every role I do is very different, but each and every one gives me a chance to make a difference and feel proud of myself.

I recently spoke to a customer at the charity shop where I volunteer on Tuesday mornings, and that got me thinking about what volunteering really means to me. It gives me something productive and useful to do and I usually feel like I’ve done a good job by the end of my shift and feel a great sense of achievement. It’s a flexible commitment, so if I need to change my working hours or day that I work there, then all I have to do is ask and that’s usually fine.

There’s much less pressure involved in volunteering, than in paid work. And, especially after the pandemic, I realise that I’m much happier when I don’t have to stay in one place all the time. I also appreciate being around other people a lot more! I feel the same about all the voluntary work that I do (organising and MC-ing at a night club for people with disabilities and being a class assistant at Tai Chi classes). I get such a buzz out of seeing people enjoying themselves on the dance floor at the Club Nights and literally screaming for more!

Being a volunteer sometimes even means helping and supporting people that you care for and/or your friends or relatives. For example, I used to volunteer on the reception desk at a day service, but a friend who went there as a service user and had issues with anxiety, asked me to come and join in with the activities, because it would help her to feel calmer. I stepped in and supported her to feel more comfortable and make the most of these activities. I felt like I’d empowered her, it was a very rewarding and positive feeling.

I’ve been assisting with Tai Chi classes for 8 years, which involves demonstrating exercises, giving advice and suggestions to the participants, promoting the classes, and Tai Chi generally in the community. I also motivate other people to volunteer. For example, a friend of mine wanted to do voluntary work to keep herself busy and do something useful. I told her about a great class for people with disabilities called Rhythm & Moves, and she came to try it out as a volunteer. We both volunteered there for a year or so. She enjoyed it and got on really well. As a result of volunteering at those sessions, she found out about another opportunity and now she volunteers at a Tai Chi class in Ely. 

I believe that an important role of volunteers is to make other people aware of the community projects they are helping with and encourage them to volunteer themselves, firstly to make the projects work better, but secondly because it can be really beneficial for them to get involved.

Zoom in on zoom session – Volunteering for All

By Ellie Lee, Volunteering Development Worker and Amy, CCVS Volunteer. November 2021

Recently, we, (Amy and Ellie) organised the first online session dedicated to supporting people with disabilities to find out about volunteering.

In preparation we produced some stylish slides to help us remember what we wanted to say and to remind us to introduce ourselves. (It would not have been the first time I, Ellie, failed to introduce myself and just started to talk! 😊)

During the session we explained our roles, Ellie’s as the Volunteering Development worker at CCVS and Amy’s as an incredible CCVS volunteer who has been with the project since it was born. Ellie talked about how she supports clients, inviting them to a 1:1 interview, to help them untangle doubts about volunteering and encourage them to explore different opportunities.

Amy did a great job of explaining how important volunteering is to her and talked about all the roles she is currently undertaking. She volunteers in an EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospice) charity shop in Cambridge, she assists at two Tai Chi classes, she helps organise the Funky Club (a night club for people with disabilities), and of course, she is a valuable CCVS volunteer and helps Ellie organise events such as the volunteer Walk and Talk and online sessions. Amy also produces articles and media content. Keep an eye out for Amy’s future blogs for more details of her volunteer roles.

We met some very enthusiastic people at our first online session, some of whom are already volunteering, and some who want to begin to get involved with local community projects.

There are many different options for volunteering and attendees shared experiences, and inspiring reasons for getting involved. We discussed the many benefits of volunteering, how rewarding it can be, and how it can improve confidence and skills. People often think that very specific and professional skills are required, but we also discussed how everyone has skills to offer, even though they may not be aware of them. Lived experience, empathy and enthusiasm make a good foundation.

We encouraged everyone to think about how to start their volunteer journey and had a conversation about breaking it down into manageable steps. By the end of the session, we were able to point one participant in the direction of one of our lovely local charities, and by the end of the day a meeting had already been arranged.

We’d like to thank everyone who joined us and for their enthusiasm and interaction.

We were both very happy with the first trial session, and we are looking forward to many more!

Do get in touch if you would like to join us in future.

Ellie and Amy