Have you ever been at an event and wondered how you can get involved with that, what it might involve and how you can do that?
Caroline is a volunteer with a local mental health charity and tells us her inspiring volunteering journey… perhaps this story will help you to take your first step towards your own volunteering journey.
Caroline had just given up paid work and wanted to get out into the community and do something useful. She didn’t want to feel isolated at home. Her friend suggested that she get involved with some pop-up Happiness Cafés that were running in her local community and so Caroline got in touch with the Project Co-ordinator for a chat about what this might involve.
She decided that she wanted to be involved in this project and especially liked the grass roots level of volunteering this would offer her, being out and about supporting people with their wellbeing and mental health.
Caroline was particularly interested in mental health as she had personal experience of mental health difficulties herself. This was a way to share her knowledge and understanding with others in a really positive and supported way. Caroline also had lots of personal skills that she could use in this volunteering role. She was really pleased to take the lead role in a Sewing for Wellbeing project, run out of the Happiness Café sessions, as she could use her sewing expertise in a very meaningful and supportive way with the participants.
Caroline feels that her volunteering has been really good support for the Project Co-ordinator, she has been reliable and constant and has been able to offer valuable transport for sessions and events. She has been able to use her conversation skills, talking and listening with the participants, sharing her own experiences in a managed and professional way.
She says that her volunteering experience has increased her self-esteem and confidence. Caroline has had fun and widened her social circle in her local community, she feels part of her town and is generally happier and feels useful.
Being relied upon and becoming an important part of this project has also supported Caroline’s own wellbeing. She feels valued. Doing the crafts and meeting people has lifted her mood and she feels better after volunteering her time and skills in the sessions.
Caroline says the varied activities have been great and there is no time to get bored. She has especially liked being a part of the larger events in the town, and she feels very connected to her local community. Caroline has also met with a range of other organisations through her volunteering that have offered her different options and support in other areas of her life, and she has attended events that she would not have gone to otherwise.
Hastings Voluntary Action work with everyday people in the local community to find suitable volunteering opportunities. Organisations receive regular support to look at transforming their opportunities to make them more accessible to fit with today’s lifestyles and needs.
If you would like to get more involved in your community, have a look at www.do-it.org which promotes a wide range of local opportunities, or our website has the latest news on some new opportunities too www.hastingsvoluntaryaction.org.uk.
But if you don’t know where to start or just need a helping hand with that 1st step, contact Hastings Voluntary Action on 01424 444010 / firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for Tanya or Sarita.