Tell us a bit about yourself?
Before lockdown, I used to work in marketing at a software company. I technically still do, but have been furloughed due to corona. Before that, I started my career in the charity sector, at NHCVS. I’ve lived in the North Herts area on and off for nearly 20 years, (I’m originally from Scotland and went to University in Kent).
How long have you been a volunteer?
I’ve been a volunteer on and off since 2014 when I started volunteering at University. I was involved with the Mental Health Society, which then ignited my interest in volunteering. Since then, I have volunteered in different capacities.
For the past 2 years, I have been a volunteer Social Media Manager and blog writer for a mental health website, called You Me and Anxiety. The website aims to normalise mental health issues by allowing people to share their stories.
I signed up to the NHS Responder Volunteer Scheme when lockdown first hit. So far I have had one call out, and await a few more, as and when I’m needed.
I have also been supporting local marketing efforts at my local CVS, which is great because it taps into my current work skills, meaning I’m not just twiddling my thumbs whilst I’m not working. It’s great to be able to get back into the voluntary sector, as I’ve moved to the private sector in the past year.
Why did you decide to start volunteering?
Since corona hit, I’ve had more free time, so I decided I wanted to do more to help the community. It appeals to my ‘people-pleasing’ nature and I like to help in any way I can.
What’s good about volunteering?
You’re helping people in need, or making a difference in the community. When the world feels like its falling apart, it feels great to see that it’s not all gloom and doom; people do really care about each other.
It gives me a sense of fulfilment, if I can help make someone’s life a little easier.
Biggest challenges you have faced as a volunteer?
For the NHS scheme, I’d have to say it can be the lack of training. The app can be a bit confusing at times, but it’s still a great app and helps those isolating.
It’s also been difficult in some respects because people are nervous to be approached. The digital volunteering is easier, because it’s all online anyway, but the lack of physical conversations sometimes makes volunteering harder.
Why would you recommend volunteering to others?
There are so many reasons to volunteer!
To help people, to upskill yourself, to gain work experience, to meet new people, to try something new… there are many reasons why people should volunteer. There are so many types of volunteering that people just don’t know about.
What do your family and friends think about you volunteering?
They were fine about the digital volunteering, but were naturally a bit worried about the NHS scheme, given that it meant interacting with other people, when it’s safer to stay home.
Is there anything you’ve been doing specifically relating to or as a result of coronavirus that you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve mentioned the digital volunteering earlier on, but corona has pushed me to sign up to other volunteering opportunities too. I’ve also applied to the Speak Out Mental Health text scheme, and to the Mad Millenials Peer Mentor scheme, so I’m waiting to hear back from those too.