#InspireVolunteer: Volunteering and making new friends

#InspireVolunteer case study from a volunteer at Groundwork London, Morley Street

While I was on sick leave from my previous job, a friend forwarded me an email about an outreach session due to take place at Richmond library, near where I live. Having too much free time on my hands I went along to see if there were any interesting volunteer opportunities available. There I met Annette, who was immediately very warm, friendly and approachable, and took time to listen to my particular circumstances that brought me to volunteering, and the type of role I was looking for. After filling in a registration form, I went away with the information that a few potential volunteer opportunities would be emailed to me based on the interests I had expressed, and my availability.

I was surprised and pleased that one of the voluntary roles I was sent information about was based at Groundwork itself. I applied, was interviewed and was accepted for the position. I was a little nervous about starting as it had been a while since I’d been at work and I felt out of practice where office tasks were concerned, but knowing that there would be a familiar face there in the form of Annette helped me to feel more at ease.

At first the processes involved in dealing with volunteer enquiries seemed too complicated and I doubted my ability to carry out the role, comparing myself to other new volunteers who appeared to pick things up much more quickly than me. I made notes as I went along and persevered, and found that by practising one process (e.g. a “do-it”) again and again until I was comfortable with it before moving on to another process (e.g. a “vol reg”), rather than jumping from one process to another and getting them confused, I was able to build up my confidence that there were some tasks I could do competently (if slowly)!

I’ve now been volunteering at Groundwork for several months, and the range of tasks I perform is still quite limited, but I feel comfortable repeating the same processes I am familiar with, at my own pace, and I enjoy the fact that there is no pressure on volunteers to get a certain quantity of work done per day so I can take as long as I feel I need. I work alongside other volunteers, however, who are more keen to explore other aspects of the service that Groundwork provides, and have taken on a wider variety of tasks, showing that volunteers can have as broad or as narrow a workload as they want, and one volunteer’s experience at the same office and in the same role can be quite different from the next.

During my time at Groundwork I have grown in confidence, and have enjoyed meeting new people, both paid staff and volunteers. One highlight has been getting to know other volunteers better by taking our lunch break together. This experience has been a positive addition to my life as well as my CV, and I have found paid part-time work since I started this role.

By BB (Groundwork London Volunteer)