One of my 50 challenges is to do 50 hours of voluntary work and I think that I’m currently around 17.5 hours into my incredible journey. Now, I can’t talk specifically about where I volunteer as I’d probably need to get permission first to mention it here but it’s a youth club for teenagers with complex learning difficulties and……I love it!
Why did I choose to volunteer?
My background is in teaching which I did until a few years ago and therefore I’ve had jobs where I was part of a team, where I had students on my timetable that gave me structure to my week, etc. When I gave up my teaching and pursued my consultancy practice, it gave me an incredible amount of freedom about which hours I work. And I’ve built my practice to the point where I’m solidly booked for 4 months at a time, I frequently having to turn away work as I can’t fit in people and I’ve finally grasped the whole work-life balance. That took time! And as well as work, I’m wife to the most amazing warm, lovable and supportive hubby, and mum to two amazing ‘children’ who make me ever so proud. But something was missing.
As I rarely see clients more than once and I work on my own, I really miss the idea of being part of a team where you can say ‘Hey, how are you?’ ‘How’s your week been?’, etc. And being a people-person, there’s a danger in my job that I could become rather reclusive despite seeing friends for lunch, etc. So, I thought I’d find a role that I could fit into my week where I’m just giving my time.
But there are lots of opportunities out there to give something back to the community. Just check out Do-it volunteering opportunities But then it was a case what did I want to do? Volunteer in a hospice? Volunteer in a homeless shelter? Volunteer for a mental health charity? All of these appeal but I found something that’s term time only and I sent off a tentative ‘hello’ email. I did say that I’m not super creative but I’d like to think that I could offer warmth and friendship and I soon had an email back to say ‘yes please’.
What do I put into my role?
So, most weeks, I do puzzles with the youngsters, do basic craft projects, play simple board games, encourage them to keep going with the wii-fit game, etc. I might help to clear up after snack time and just engage in such random conversations! Some youngsters are completely non-verbal so I’m also learning Makaton.
What do I get out of volunteering?
Well, what don’t I get out of volunteering?! I mean, I come away buzzing every week having had an amazing 2.5 hours. I work alongside a team of staff members who are fabulously lovely, warm, welcoming and fun…..and who jokingly said earlier this week that I’m not allowed to leave once I’ve done my 50 hours! I spend time with youngsters with complex difficulties yet they embrace life in a basic way who find the funny in everything we do! And I get to say to people ‘Hey, how are you?’ ‘How’s your week been?‘
Here’s my list of challenges if you’d like to see what’s on my current bucket list