My volunteering ‘life’ started in October 2014. I’d retired a little early the previous spring following a lifetime working in the NHS. For the vast majority of my career I thoroughly enjoyed my work within the administrative team, later moved into the senior managerial side of the service. But, the pull to take things a bit easier, and join my husband in retirement was too strong to resist! However, friends did say that I’d start to get fidgety after a while, and the inevitable happened – also my husband was a bit fed up with all the jobs I was finding him to do! I’d had it in mind to volunteer at some stage, and decided the time had come to get out from under his feet a bit.
I initially went on the “Volunteering Wales” website to see what opportunities were out there and was amazed at the huge plethora of different organisations who were crying out for help and were offering a tremendous scope of different roles. There were thousands of opportunities on the website and I clearly needed to be a bit more focussed on what I wanted to do, rather than just think I wanted to volunteer!
So I thought about what I liked doing, and being a bit of a sad soul, I realised I actually enjoy administration!! Well someone has to! I thought my initial foray into volunteering may be best if it was something within my comfort zone so focussed a search around office work and selected a possible suitable opportunity on the website. I was contacted by Jackie from the Volunteer Centre who asked about my background, skills etc. and invited me in for a chat. When I said I was open to suggestions about a suitable admin post, Jackie suggested that help was needed at the Volunteer Centre and as the office seemed friendly and the work of interest to me I was happy to give it a try.
My view was if I was going to be of value to DVSC then I would need to commit to a given amount of time; I decided initially I could offer two days a week. By giving that commitment I felt I was likely to be able to be sufficiently involved in the organisation to gain something for myself in terms of job satisfaction and a sense of belonging to a team.
Initially I worked closely with Jackie assisting with a large project the Centre needed to undertake, which was a change in database as this would be used to support their work. In some ways the work was a bit mind-numbing, but necessary to ensure the smooth transition of databases, and was well within my capabilities. After the project’s completion, I continued to help the Volunteer Centre with the following-up of enquiries, helping to maintain the Volunteering Wales website of opportunities, assisting with general data entry work and the day-to-day work of the Centre.
Although a volunteer, one thing I very much appreciate was being regarded as a member of the team. I am included in various meetings – both team and committee – and have worked closely with the staff in helping to organise various external meetings or special activities. It is rewarding that my views/opinions are sought in discussions and that my work is always very much appreciated.
In short, my volunteering experience has more than met my expectations and I continue to enjoy working at DVSC. I have to say though that probably the nicest thing about volunteering is that I can come to work at a time that’s far more civilised than I’ve been used to and there’s no limit to the amount of holidays I can take – and I’m still appreciated!