Chloe | Time2Share
Time2Share is a local charity supporting disabled children, young people and their families across the Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset region. They have been successfully supporting people in the area to our access volunteer befriending schemes and group activities for over 40 years. Chloe is one of their valued volunteer befrienders who really enjoys her role, see what else she thinks about volunteering below:
Why did you decide to volunteer?
About a year ago I realised I didn’t give nearly enough money to charities. What most people don’t realise is that time can be even more valuable than a donation, and I had quite a bit of spare time on my hands. I had a search online and I soon came across Time2Share. Reading about the organisation, it became apparent that families can seriously lack emotional and social support, so I put my name forward to help. Fast track to over a year from then, and I have a little friend called Lily that I go swimming and catch Pokémon with every week!
What is your favourite aspect of volunteering?
Like I mentioned above, I’ve gained a friend! I see Lily once a week, on alternate Wednesdays and Saturdays, and I look forward to each visit. Not only have I gained a friend through Lily, I am close with her entire family, from Mum and Dad Lisa and Mark, to their other children Lucy and Luke. Also, from feedback from her parents and through Time2Share, it’s clear that she enjoys her time with me and I have helped her develop into a more independent person – which is so rewarding!
What are your key responsibilities?
Obviously as Lily is still a child, I have to maintain a certain level of care for her. Especially if we’re out of the house, as I am entrusted with sole responsibility. Although now that time has gone on, I can tell that not only Lily but Lisa (her Mum) both trust me to take her out. She’s so well behaved it’s always easy taking care of her anyway . Our visits outside of the home have included Pokémon hunting at the local park, swimming, the SS Great Britain, @Bristol... all sorts! It’s a lot of fun!
What skills have you got out of volunteering?
Empathy is definitely one skill that has developed since becoming a befriender. Not only for Lily and her Family, but empathetic to the disabled community as a whole. I am now also more willing to try new things, as volunteering was never something I imagined myself doing.
What would you say to somebody who is considering volunteering?
It is most of the most rewarding things I have ever done, hands down. I can see how much of a difference it makes just giving Mark and Lisa a few extra hours every week – especially as Lily is the most active and energetic of the bunch. What’s giving up a few hours of your week? Nothing. Yet to families like Mark and Lisa’s it’s everything! And above all... it’s so much fun!! If you’re thinking aboutjoining... do it!
To find out more about being a Volunteer Befriender with Time2Share click here!
Julia | Growing Support
Growing Support is a not for profit organisation passionate about tackling social isolation and loneliness experienced by people with social care and health needs, particularly amongst people suffering with dementia. Here is what Julia has to say about her volunteering experience at Growing support:
Why did you decide to volunteer at Growing Support?
It combines two things in my life, a love of gardening and a life long interest in people. I orginally trained as an occupational therapist so I guess there has always been for me that thread of supporting people. Eventually I would love to be working in the community in a role that does that and I am sure this experience will help lead there.
What have you gained from volunteering?
I've learnt a lot about the value of supporting people based on what they can do, rather than what they can't do. That's actually been a valuable lesson for me in other work I do when I'm not volunteering. When we run the sessions we are bringing something interesting and new to the older people we work with. It's a very tangible demonstration of bringing the community to the residents, showing that they haven't been given up on, they are people worthy of our time and attention.
Would you recommend this type of volunteering to someone?
Oh, yes, I would. I feel like I am making good use of my skills. In the same way that we are giving the residents a sense of worth and achievement that's what I am getting too.
Ann | Cadbury Heath Nature Play
Cadbury Heath Nature Play is a free fun time forest school for parents / carers with pre-school aged children. The exciting range of outdoor activities include bug hunting, den building, crafts using natural materials, growing and cooking, storytelling, music and dance.
Volunteer Ann is currently undertaking a Level 3 Forest School Qualification and wanted to work with a local group that were already running forest school activities and would feel comfortable with her honing her forest skills; lighting fires, using knives etc. with their children.
Ann says of her time volunteering so far: "the group is incredibly supportive and I’m learning loads about how to introduce forest school to parents as well as children."
"As an adult we rarely get the chance to get out in the open air with our friends and run around having fun; that’s exactly what I do as a volunteer. As well as connecting children and parents with the great outdoors of course, I get to screech like an owl, jump in puddles, run, hide, and laugh and make lots of noise – it’s the greatest therapy ever and I get to do it once a week for free. Volunteering is giving me the opportunity to learn something new every day and practice the skills I already have, I’m enjoying every second.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering?... The wonderful thing about volunteering is you never know where it will lead."
Maureen | The Hive
The Hive (Avon) Ltd is a local, non-profit organisation in the Kingswood area of Bristol. They run a vibrant drop-in centre for adults with learning disabilities to come to to socialise, play games and carry out a variety of activities; or they can simply relax in our wonderful sensory room. Each session is designed to be fun and is led by one or two session leaders (members of staff). We regularly hold events, for example, discos, pamper evenings and fayres, to raise vital funds to keep the Drop-in running.
Drop-in Support Volunteers are an absolute necessity to keep the centre running smoothly; and the Drop-in would not be able to function without them. The Drop-in Support role can involve helping out with arts and crafts, playing board or card games, playing pool or simply making cups of tea or coffee and washing up!
We asked Maureen Deane, one of the Drop-in's regular volunteers, why she likes volunteering at The Hive, to which she replied: “I feel as though I am helping out even if I am just chatting to the members or having a cup of tea with them. It gives me a boost as well. There is always lots of things going on and hopefully it helps to make the members feel special.”
At The Hive there are also volunteering opportunities in advocacy work and mentoring.
Rachel | Home-Start Bristol
Home-Start Bristol are looking for Home Visiting Volunteers. Can you offer 2-3 hours a week to visit a family? If so become a volunteer with Home-Start Bristol who support families with young children who are struggling to cope. Volunteers visit a family every week, working alongside them to find solutions to their problems so that they can start to enjoy family life again. You can even join their accredited training programme and gain a level 1 or 2 qualification.
Rachel chose to volunteer with Home-Start and said the following about her experience:
"‘After seeing a close friend go through post natal depression I felt I wanted to help other mums. The reality of being a Home-Start volunteer exceeded my expectations. It was not always easy but the supervision and support I received was fantastic – I always felt I could phone the office. ….I loved all the training opportunities and being able to put it into practice with the families. During my time with Home-Start Bristol I got a job as a family support worker and I have no doubt my Home-Start experience enabled me to get that job. It also helped me get onto my Foundation degree which I have now finished. I am about to start my 3rd year BA Hons. Home-Start goes above and beyond to look after the volunteers. It has been such a positive experience and a real turning point in my life. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming.’
Phillip | Tools for Self Reliance
Phillip is a volunteer with Tools for Self Reliance, which is based at the Kingswood Heritage Museum in Warmley. Phillip refurbishes old sewing machines and various other tools, bringing them back to full working order. These refurbished items are then shipped to various countries in Africa and donated to local trades people, helping them to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.
Phillip can be seen, left, working on a sewing machine with fellow Tools for Self Reliance volunteer.
“Volunteering has benefitted me as it helps to keep me in the habit and routine of work, as well as improving my confidence to seek paid employment. I enjoy being part of a team and helping others.”
Tools for Self Reliance are currently recruiting volunteers. If you would like to get involved they have a range of roles, from refurbishing tools to sorting haberdashery items as well as collecting donated items and packing tools for delivery. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, work as part of a small and friendly team and gain valuable skills in tool maintenance. Click here to find out more.