DORSET Community Foundation runs smoothly thanks to the dedication and commitment of its two volunteers, Ali Crump and Sarah Bennett.
Ali retired from a career in road safety and driving training, having left at a senior management level. She was inspired to volunteer during the pandemic by her partner’s role as a pharmacy technician when she saw how she was making a difference on the frontline.
“I volunteered delivering food and we used to get newsletters with other volunteering vacancies. I saw an admin role at DCF being advertised and applied,” she said.
“I didn’t know anything about the foundation before I started volunteering but I quickly realised it does so much to help people.”
She and Sarah share a role a day a week supporting the foundation staff in processing grant applications, keeping databases up to date, writing case studies and helping with reports and surveys.
“It was really important to me to make a difference and I was desperate to do something,” said Ali. “I’ve never volunteered before having worked from 18 to 58. I just wanted to give something back, especially to the local community.”
She said being involved with the foundation’s work and getting to know the work of the hundreds of groups working all over Dorset has shown her another side of the county, one she feels many people are unaware of.
“I had no idea of the hardship and poverty that people experience so it has been an eye-opener into the help people need,” she said.
“That’s why it is just really good to have that feeling that you are giving something back.”
Sarah saw the role at the community foundation at a point when she had been out of work for six years due to an illness and caring for her nan. She was finding the process of getting back into work a little soul-destroying.
“It gets very disheartening and you start feel you don’t have useful skills,” she said. “I saw the advert for the role at the community foundation and thought ‘why don’t I put my skills to use while I am job-hunting and help other people?’.”
She said that being given responsibility has been a huge boost to her self-esteem.
“The work that I have been given to do is getting more complex as they learn what I can do,” she said. “So knowing they have the belief and trust in me to do it really builds my confidence, just as knowing that you are doing good really helps.
“I was talking to people who had received student bursaries to find out how they were doing and just hearing some of the stories and how they have been helped sent shivers down my spine.”
She also volunteers for People First Forum and has been involved with Oakdale Girlguiding ever since she first pulled on a Brownie uniform. Now she is a Girlguiding Leader with the same unit and is about to become District Commissioner for the Poole area.
She said: “Part of the Brownie promise is to lend a hand and help other people and that has stayed with me through my life, it’s part of me now.
“Being involved in Girlguiduiding is rewarding because you are making a difference to people and you are helping them become the people they want to be.
“Just knowing that as long as they keep heading in the same direction they will go on to great things makes you feel good.”
She said she wouldn’t hesitate to encourage anyone else to volunteer. “There is never a bad reason to volunteer,” she said.
“If you want to feel good about yourself, do it. If you are in a bad place, do it. You won’t regret it.”
Volunteers’ Week is supported and celebrated by small grassroots organisations as well as larger, household-name charities, who together run hundreds of activities across the UK. These activities showcase and celebrate volunteers and the contribution volunteering makes in our communities.
Volunteers’ Week 2021 is a time to say thanks. It goes without saying that volunteers have played a key role in the pandemic response. During an exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to volunteer and make a huge difference to their communities – just as they do every year. This is a time for us to come together and thank all volunteers for their invaluable contribution.
This 37th annual Volunteers’ Week is taking place during the #MonthofCommunity. Running throughout June, #MonthOfCommunity brings together organisations with a range of events in order to encourage us all to think about and join in with activities happening in our local communities.