Written by one of our volunteers:
What makes people volunteer? Volunteers might say they want to connect to the community, feel involved and make a difference. During the pandemic, these people really have been making a huge difference in our communities, beavering away silently and regularly for months to provide care and much-needed support to the vulnerable.
Amy is one of the many volunteers who came to Communities 1st to offer her time to help isolated people in her community. She describes the volunteering world as ‘a special place to be’ and says the opportunity has given her a whole new perspective on life.
Like so many others, Amy was furloughed during the lockdown. In some ways Amy welcomed a change of pace, with a break from the daily grind of travel into London, the long working hours and the pressures of the job. She did however miss her busy social life and leisure activities, and admitted that she felt untethered as she tried to get to grips with the lockdown and further restrictions.
As a result of the restrictions, Amy’s habits changed for the better. She walked to the supermarket rather than hopping in the car, shopped locally, watched less TV and went walking for its own sake. With so much free time on her hands she has developed new interests such as jigsaws and knitting (for a very small person!) and Amy found a new calmness in her life, improving her well-being. This experience might strike a familiar chord with many of you, it feels good to do some exercise, while doing your bit for the environment too!
However, that was not enough for Amy; she was determined to find a new sense of purpose. She wanted to give back to the community in any way she could and put her skills to good use. Amy had some knowledge of what volunteering entailed through her father’s work as a trustee of a number of local charities and after trying a few different roles with Communities 1st, she found her ‘new normal’.
She began helping vulnerable residents Peggy and Diane, through telephone befriending and shopping deliveries. Amy’s friendships with these women began only after the lockdown, and yet they evolved beyond a mere volunteer/client relationship. In fact, Amy cannot remember a time when she did not know Diane, whom she describes as a ‘hoot-a-minute’ and Peggy may be 94, but is now Amy’s new second nan.
Amy has shared that she gets as much from the volunteering experience as her ‘new friends’ do. Now that she has returned to full-time employment, the dilemma for her was not whether to continue volunteering, but how to fit it around her life. She would miss hearing Peggy’s stories about her life (as Peggy put it: “I was not always 93!”) as well as the conversations she has with Diane, that range from politics to cooking, nature to online purchases.
“They are stuck with me now!” Amy says good naturedly, “they are incredible women and it has been a privilege to have been part of their story”.
Written by Etain Ferdenzi (Volunteer)