VOLUNTEERING is obviously a huge a help to whichever group someone chooses to give up their time for – but it can also be a transformative experience for the volunteer themselves.
Sarah Willmott (in the centre of the picture above) was a regular visitor to Poole Waste Not Want Not, the foodbank and café charity in Poole High Street.
Her life was in a tailspin and her confidence and self-esteem at a low ebb.
“I was going in to get my shopping every week and I always chatted to the people running it,” she recalled.
“They asked me if I wanted to start volunteering there and I said yes because I wanted to give back something that they’d given me.”
That was 18 months ago and now the confident volunteer, who has become a linchpin of the operation, bears no relation to the shy, reticent woman who first stepped behind the counter.
“When I first started here I wouldn’t say anything to anybody, but it has totally turned my life around,” she said.
“I was in quite a hole and I needed support. I started working here and it changed my life and I’m very grateful to everybody here.”
When I first started here I wouldn’t say anything to anybody, but it has totally turned my life around
Staff member Erika Sloper, who has only been at the charity a few weeks, said when she joined it was obvious Sarah is instrumental to its smooth running.
“She has been such a support to me, she knows what she is doing here and she is brilliant with the customers. She is a really worthy member of our team,” she said.
“She has had her own issues but she has fond that this project has helped her and given her a focus and now she feels part of the community again. I am hoping she can mentor and support new volunteers coming through the programme.”
Sarah said she would recommend anyone tries volunteering. “It’s very rewarding and I like having the responsibilities and being trusted,” she said.
“It can be really busy at times but I enjoy that. I like the people I work with and since I have been working here I have got my confidence back, it has totally turned my life around.”
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.