... It fits in with the rest of my life
“I’m pleased to be able to give something back. When my mum and dad were alive, several people helped them and now it’s my time to help others. I know that just a small amount of support can keep older people going.” Andy, in his late fifties and living in Hoddesdon, is motivated by a desire to help others but he also recognises that “often when you help someone, you’re appreciated, you feel good. And that’s nice.”
Andy started volunteering with Communities 1st during Covid, about three years ago. He started as a marshal at a vaccination centre and then learnt that volunteers were needed for other jobs too. Today, he mostly does driving and some shopping. “I seem to often provide cover when the regular shopping volunteers are on holiday or have something else on,” he explained. “This suits me well and fits in with the rest of my life.” This is important because Andy is a busy man. “I don’t stop a lot!” he explained to me, “and I like to be busy.”
Hertfordshire man and boy
father needed more support, Andy moved back to the family home in Hoddesdon to look after him. Andy still lives there, but sadly his father died in 2021. For nearly thirty years, Andy worked in IT and project management for a major pharmaceutical company but was made redundant in 2014. Today, Andy has a dream part time job, three days a week, as administration manager at Tolmers Scout Activity Centre. He has a life-long commitment to and passion for scouting. This year Andy will complete 38 years in scouting! As a volunteer, he is a scout leader, a group scout leader, and a deputy District Commissioner! Andy is keen to support young people and this sense of civic responsibility also cuts across his volunteering with Communities 1st. From his scouting experience, Andy understands the importance of volunteering and he commented that “without volunteers the scouting movement just couldn’t operate.” The same is true of Communities 1st.
If I have time, I don't mind helping
“Mondays and Tuesdays are my days off work,” Andy explained to me, “and I am happy to volunteer for Communities 1st. I like doing a little drive or a job. Helping and seeing the difference that you make really does make you feel good.” He volunteers for a couple of hours each week.
The driving jobs that Andy does are varied. “I might take people to hospital, I sometimes drive the Shopper Bus, and I might take groups on outings. A couple of weeks ago, I delivered a laptop!” He continued, “I’ve done a couple of trips for the International NHS Recruits at the Lister Hospital. I also did a one-off shop for a couple when they missed the Shopper Bus!”
He enjoys helping with shopping. “When you’ve done several jobs for one person, you get to know them,” he explained. “It’s good to have a little chat on the doorstep, find out how the person is, and catch up. I’ve now shopped for Harold* a number of times. He’s quite a character and I enjoy chatting to him. He and his wife live alone. They’re always ever so grateful for what you do. Harold always has a bunch of flowers on the bottom of his shopping list. He once offered me a bunch! I declined.”
[*Not his real name.]
I'm an online man! Communities 1st makes it very easy to help
Andy finds the way that Communities 1st is organised works well for him. “To start with, there is no pressure on you to do a job, which is nice. Also, I’ve worked in IT for many years and I’m an online man! I enjoy communicating through email and you can always follow that up with a short phone call if that’s necessary. I find that communicating with the staff works well – we’ve struck the right balance.”
This feels to me like a win-win situation. Andy makes an important contribution as a volunteer to the work of Communities 1st to the extent that suits him. There is no pressure on him, and he feels that communication works well. Long may this happy arrangement continue!
Written by: Chris Cloke, Communities 1st Volunteer