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Volunteers' Stories

Volunteers' Stories

“Volunteering has helped me check I’m on the right track for a new career” Fiona

“When my children got to a certain age I realised they didn't need me so much so I could retrain into something that I wanted to do. I enjoy helping people feel better about themselves so I did a degree in counselling and psychotherapy. I’m now volunteering for the counselling service at Talking Spaces, seeing 4 clients a week which will count towards the experience necessary for accreditation as a counsellor. Most jobs in mental health require you to be working towards this, so I am improving my employability through volunteering. I’m also using volunteering to check whether this is the right job for me. If you give your own time you can usually find out what you enjoy doing.”

“Some people I’d never met before recognised my voice from the talking newspaper, which was really satisfying” Jeremy

"I do a number of volunteering activities and through my work at the hospital I met someone from the Roundabout Talking Newspaper for the Blind. It sounded interesting and a chance to put the public reading skills I’d done at school into practice; you can sort of act out various accents to make items interesting. The Roundabout editor decides what items are to be read and there is a presenter and a recorder plus a lady and a gent who alternately read out items– it comes out really professionally. We meet on a Friday evening in Ripley and also record a magazine every month. One month I read out one of my own stories which was great. It was really satisfying to be recognised by my voice by some students from Henshaws during a tandem ride for Open Country."

"Tandeming is off-beat - helping people to do something they otherwise couldn’t” Mike

“I was interested in the countryside, walking, cycling and so on, and although I hadn’t done volunteering before I was involved in the Dales Access Forum so I wanted to do something that would give me inside experience of what it was like for disabled people to get out into the Dales.

Through Open Country I’m one of the tandem volunteers. We take people who have learning disabilities or vision impairment on the back of one of the project’s tandems out into the countryside. There are 3 groups and about 10 tandems that go out on evenings in the spring and summer. Typically once a week, but it depends on your availability, there’s no pressure. We ride for about 90 minutes then go to a pub before cycling home again. Its terrific fun, and a good laugh, the volunteers’ ages range from retired people to students, all with a love of cycling.”

"I volunteer because of something that touched me personally." Kirstie

“I started volunteering over 7 years ago when I was recovering from being poorly and spending a lot of time on my own. I had done a short counselling course at college and I wanted to keep busy doing something which used those skills. I also had a sister who was housebound at age 25 so when the Volunteer Centre suggested I could help others who are isolated I knew what it was like personally.

Through ‘Carers Time Off’ I’ve been linked to a number of people over the years, giving whatever time I can. Currently I support a lady who lives alone who can’t walk unaided. Sometimes we just chat and drink tea, other times I’ll walk round the block with her. My visits just break her day up. I visit about once a week for an hour. I keep in touch with all the people I’ve visited in the past, or their families. I think volunteering has got to be something you feel personally about. I feel, even though what I do is small, I’m helping people and I like to keep busy.”

“I love it when the new fathers come in and brag about being a Dad”   Mary

“I moved here 2 years ago to be near my son over in Ilkley; but I knew no one in Harrogate. So I’m volunteering to meet people and make friends. I’m currently doing a session a week at the WRVS coffee shop in the hospital and I’m also on a monthly rota to serve lunches to the elderly at the Wesley Chapel in town. I love being in the coffee shop when the new fathers come in and tell me proudly they are Dads. It’s a really friendly place to be. I like being able to have a quick chat with the public as well as the other helpers.”

"I used my interest in building conservation to volunteer towards my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award" Ed

“After researching various places to do the residential element of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award I came across Cathedral Camps which are week long conservation camps for young people. We were a team of ten 16 - 20 year olds from all over the UK, with one from Belgium too. We slept in the cathedral hall and carried out indoor and outdoor conservation tasks, like clearing gravestones hidden by turf, painting the railings and dusting the crypt and towers wearing face masks. Besides being useful for the award I made some good friends as we lived and worked together 24/7 for the week and also had a trip to Lightwater Valley. It was interesting to see behind-the-scenes at the cathedral and it has been useful for my application to university. I’m applying to do another camp this summer.”

“It’s been a privilege to pass on knowledge and have  a lot of fun in the process”

"I was first introduced to volunteering with Ripon Museums Trust by an existing Workhouse volunteer I met in the supermarket. I asked her what she did there and after she told me I thought about it and decided I would have a go. I started on the reception desk welcoming visitors and issuing tickets. Fairly soon afterwards I joined the team helping with school visits, which I especially enjoy as it’s a chance to dress up in period costume. Recently I have started taking parties on guided tours round the museum.

What has this done for me? It has been an opportunity to meet lots of different people both visitors, staff and volunteers. I have learned so much about workhouse history and it has a been a great privilege to be able to pass this knowledge on to others whilst having a lot of fun in the process. Having said that it’s not all fun; sometimes the school visits can be hard work, but they are still very rewarding and I wouldn’t want to stop doing them. Since becoming a volunteer I have felt a great sense of camaraderie with the other volunteers and staff and it’s good to feel part of the team, part of a family almost."