Weekend Kindness

  

This weekend has been a volunteering one. The PDSA was open for staff and volunteers, so business resumed as normal. We did lots of sorting, hanging and restocking. 

  
  
 

I volunteered all day at the PDSA yesterday; I was back home. It reopens this Friday and it should be busy, successful and lively. 

Today I spent my day volunteering with Umbrella. It was a relaxed day at Umbrella House, spent crafting, playing games and having fun. As usual the young people were amazing and surprised me in the most inspirational ways. 

  
There is no other way I would like to spend my weekend. 

National Volunteer Week 2015

So you don’t get paid?

(Please excuse the formatting, my laptop has died!)

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Volunteering is what I’m meant to do.
It just is. Some people believe they were born to be a mother, an athlete, a nurse; I believe I was born to volunteer.

I started volunteering for a charity when I was 17, just to gain a bit of work experience. I never left & that was eight years ago. Then, at the age of 22, I started volunteering with a second charity. That was three years ago. I adore both.

The PDSA

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.
 
The PDSA is the charity I started volunteering for first. At my local PDSA charity shop. I was 17 & encouraged at home to volunteer to gain some experience. I think they probably just meant a few months, not 8 years. I volunteer as a sales assistant on the shop floor.
When I started, I was paired with a wonderful elderly lady. She ‘showed me the ropes’ (to her high standards) & ensured that I had company. After a couple of years, her husband became increasingly unwell & she took some time away from volunteering once she was satisfied that I was up to scratch. Over the next year leading to her husbands passing, she became more frail & hasn’t returned to us. She’s still very much part of our team & pops in regularly to let us know how she is.
Once she had left, my confidence and independence continued to grow. On a Saturday, there is a relatively high turn over of shop floor staff as they often choose the PDSA as the volunteering part for their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Once they have achieved their bronze/silver/gold award, priorities and logistics tend to change. Exams take over, university placement, paid employment. Lots of young volunteers move on to paid employment & that isn’t disappointing, it’s rewarding. Rewarding to know that their volunteering experience has allowed them to move on to the next stage of their life. Many are upset to leave as they have made new friends that they would not have met otherwise.
I have met some of the best people I could wish to meet. Not best because we are similar and comfortable in each other’s company, but best because we all have our new own story.

Volunteer age ranges from fourteen to in the eighties. I have learned and gained so much.

Ive gained a friend so close she classes as family. She’s been stuck with me for 8 years and does just that; sticks with me through thick and thin. She’s a life long friend.

There is different reasons for people to volunteer at the PDSA, but they tend to fall under the same categories. To socialise, gain experience and keep busy. These overlap and for some, this volunteering is a crucial part of their life, numerous times a week.

When the shop was closed due to arson in February 2015, it left some volunteers lost.

Volunteering is their reason to leave the house and without it what was the point? This month it is reopening & it is lovely to see how excited our older ladies are. Many of them have been with the PDSA for eleven years, since it opened, and now it is where they go to share and make memories

I am fiercely loyal to our volunteers, staff and customers. Our charity shop is my home. It has hugely increased my confidence and I have gained transferable skills that have been invaluable.

In two years, I will have volunteered with the PDSA for ten years. I cannot wait.

Visit their Facebook page.

Umbrella
 
Umbrella was the second charity that I started volunteering for. They do some truly wonderful work with children and young people with a disability and their carers. Umbrella support children from 5 years old to young people aged 30 to be integrated in society. Please see their website for the services that they can offer.
I didn’t start volunteering with umbrella with a selfless motive, I started to expand on my disability knowledge and experience. However, I continue selflessly because I really do care a lot about their service users.

I volunteer with Umbrella throughout school holidays and weekends…if I could I would give my time to them daily.

 
They have a house in Mackworth, Derby where they provide lots of support. They have a kitchen for children and young people to use, a garden room leading to their beautiful garden (garden improvement is this years project), a sensory room and a central room. For days based at Umbrella House many an activity takes place. Baking, outdoor play, arts & crafts, wii/playstation gaming, reading, party games, films etc. Most importantly, these activities are in a safe environment where children & young people can be independent but always supported. Umbrella run many trips that their children and young people may not be able to experience otherwise. Many also have the opportunity to have 1-1 support routinely. Children and young people refer to Umbrella as their morning/day/evening to see their friends.

Umbrella staff are truly selfless in their role. They are all trained to provide specific support, but most importantly they are patient, innovative and happy.


I am very passionate about this charity and the work that they do. I honestly love the children and young people that use the service. Just the thought of them brightens my day and their perseverance and achievements, inspire me daily.
Visit their Facebook page.
 


Why do I volunteer? 

I volunteer because it’s nice to be nice, isn’t it? Volunteering gets the endorphins going inside of me, I get a buzz. It improves my mental health, when I don’t want to do anything, I always find that scrap of motivation to volunteer. The PDSA are so understanding, they let me volunteer whenever I choose, on top of my regular Saturday, they know the benefits of being busy. And in turn it helps them too. Volunteering makes me proud, it’s my biggest achievement. It means that I socialise with others. I constantly build my skills and quality development. It makes me genuinely happy. Happier than any medication or therapy.
 
I truly believe that everyone could benefit from volunteering, there are so many different opportunities.
Visit  Do-It for local opportunities.