My first volunteer role was as an Arts and Craft Volunteer with the NHSCT Base in Magherafelt, working with adults with a learning disability. At that time the Base was located in the Volunteer Centre office in Rainey Street before they moved up to InVOLve House. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made and I really can't imagine my life without it now.
My first day volunteering in The Base was so frightening for me, but my main goal that day was to stay and try not to run which I did. Then each week it got a little easier as everyone was so friendly and made me feel welcome, which encouraged me to open up a little more. Months and years have now gone by and my main aim is to make my time with the Service Users fun with all the many Arts and Craft ideas I keep finding. I have also had the great opportunity to use my Makaton skills to support and assist the services users for their ‘True Colours’ and ‘Dream, Believe Achieve’ projects.
Now six years down the line we are all in lockdown and I'm back to square one, listening to my own thoughts, only this time it's not my mind that is stopping me from getting back to my much-loved volunteering it’s circumstances beyond my control. But I’m so thankful that with technology I can now interact with everyone again. I have been given the opportunity with the support of staff to lead three Zoom sessions a week with service users. We have a morning of Makaton, some arts and craft fun mid-week and finish the week with a cuppa and a chat and maybe a few games.
Over the last few years, I have also become an Event Volunteer for the Volunteer Centre helping out staff at various events they run from their annual Volunteer Recruitment Fair, Health and Wellbeing events, Project launches etc. Recently I have also taken on a new role as a Volunteer Receptionist for InVOLve House and the Volunteer Centre one morning a week. I have loved the opportunity to meet so many different people through my volunteering and for me personally, I never thought I would ever say that, because I am or was so shy, and afraid of everything.
But volunteering has given me a purpose to my life, friends I never thought I would ever have and confidence to be wanted in my community. I'm not the same person I was six years ago, I am a better version of me.