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.