We hear from Ann Davis, who, finding herself retired and at a loss as to how to fill her days, turned to volunteering. Finally finding her place in volunteering for local sports clubs, here are her top reasons to get involved and help out in your own community.
Why become a volunteer? Good question, I’d have thought before I retired seven years ago. Now I have plenty of answers: you meet lots of new, different people, have an amazing range of new, exciting experiences, do things you would never have thought of, visit new places, use your skills in completely different ways, etc - all while you enjoying yourself.
So how did I first get involved? I must admit I was scared by the prospect of retirement. My job involved meeting many people (usually hundreds) every day and I wondered how I’d cope without this daily human contact. At that time I had no grandchildren so helping with child care was not an option. I had already registered as a volunteer for London 2012 but that was still some time off (this was 2007). It was my younger daughter who suggested I get involved. So I went along to my local CVS (Community Volunteer Service) office.
The local branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society needed someone to help at a weekly exercise class. As it was close to where I live, I went along to offer my services. That was nearly 7 years ago and the start of quite a journey.
I must admit I was scared by the prospect of retirement. My job involved meeting many people (usually hundreds) every day and I wondered how I'd cope without this daily human contact.
Since then I have been heavily involved with the London 2012 Olympics. I worked as a Selection Event Volunteer interviewing those who had applied to be Games Makers for London 2012, then as a Training Event Volunteer, helping to train over 1000 Games Makers. I did this mostly in Hackney but also at St. James’ Park in Newcastle (eat your hearts out Newcastle fans - I’ve touched the acred turf!) and also down at Weymouth. And finally, during the Olympic and Paralympic Games I was a Games Maker in the Olympic Park as one of the purple and orange clan welcoming everyone to the Games. I had the time of my life - it was like one long party in the park.
Then in 2013 I got involved with Join In (joininuk.org), an organisation that is carrying on the volunteering legacy and which aims to encourage more people to get involved in grass roots sport and in volunteering. I am now one of the co-ordinators in Essex. I’ve met and worked with Paralympic and Olympic champions, a world record holder and numerous wonderful people from all sorts of sports organisations.
And something completely different - for the past couple of years I’ve been the staffing manager for Chelmsford Beer Festivals, recruiting and managing the deployment of over 200 volunteers. Another great group of people to meet and work with!
2011 and 2012 saw the arrival of two special people - my grandchildren. We still fit in time to visit and play with them (still can’t believe how much I love being a granny!). I know how much they will be depending on volunteers at various clubs and activities as they get older.
Want something new? Try volunteering. You can see from my tiny number of experiences what a huge range of opportunities are out there. Give it a try. You won’t look back, I promise you!
Ann volunteers through Join In UK, a registered charity that helps UK grassroots sports clubs attract more supporters and volunteers from their local communities. For more information, and to find volunteering opportunities near you, see their website.
how refreshing to read of your experiences within the volunteer services, I too have time on my hands after being bereaved of my husband, it's soul destoying, I feel but we cannot give up as you have proved. I have many times applied to volunteer but I have found that the checks on an individual takes so long to complete, I simply do not understand the delays as there is so much help needed in many ways. Although I am 'past my sell by date' gratefully I am healthy and mobile, would love to be involved.
Every county has a volunteers website. Usually on the county council website. This is full of adverts for volunteers. I started volunteering for a local heritage group that way - and no CRB or other checks were necessary.
For me volunteering is a way of life, not something I consciously began. My parents and grandparents, both, were active in working in the community through their church and it never occurred to me not to offer to help when an activity I was involved in needed help. Currently I am actively involved in four different groups and for 10 years I volunteered with Age Concern as a Home Visitor
I have done various voluntary roles at different times in my life. The first was part of a school based scheme when we could do 'community service' or sports. I chose CS and visited an elderly gentleman , did shopping for him or prepared his tea and just chatted. He was in his mid-80s then and had been in a young soldier the Boer war. He still had a very musty tin of chocolate sent to the troops by Queen Victoria.
When the kids were small & I was not working I helped out at a junior youth club in the evenings run by the Family Service Unit and I also did shopping for a woman who was disabled (via a local volunteer charity). I also did some stuff that would now be called Home Start /Sure Start but don't think it had a name then.
Once I was working f/t again it was harder to find space for volunteering plus kids though I was a parent governor (with Theresa May no less!) at my daughters' school.
Now I am part retired I have time to be a school governor again and am involved in two local charity and action groups.
I do the volunteering because I enjoy it. I have met lovely people and made some great friends too.
I have done voluntary jobs since I married DH. I volunteered because, as it wasn't a 'proper' job, I could drop things if the children needed me - of course it doesn't work like that!
My roles included pushing a book trolley round a hospital, PTA, looking after neighbours and an ad hoc sort of Sure Start. For the past 13 years I worked for Victim Support as a volunteer for Witness Service at our local court. Unfortunately, all that changed when VS had to tender for various contracts and there became quite a nasty atmosphere, the volunteers ceased to be important and 4 of us decided to leave. My main role was helping victims of DV to give their evidence and I have since found a slightly similar role for which training begins next week. I'm really excited.
I volunteer because I believe that, if you can, you should but also, as a non-working mother/grandmother, it is my contribution to society and very important in giving me an insight into the lives of other people.