Volunteering Adventures in Northumberland
By our Anonymous blogger
My adventures in volunteering have come thick and fast just recently. Not only have I had the opportunity to write a blog and visit some of the organisations who take on volunteers, but the past couple of weeks have been particularly exciting and challenging!
Firstly, on 23rd May, myself and Michelle Cadby – the volunteering Development Officer at Northumberland NCVA – were guests on Koast Radio to publicise our Volunteer Fair in Ashington during Volunteers’ Week. Then, on the day of the fair itself, I helped Michelle and the team set up and host the event at Wansbeck Square in Ashington.
Our visit to Koast Radio was something completely new to me. We talked to Martin, who volunteers as a DJ at the station, to discuss the role of the NCVA. Michelle began by explaining that our organisation not only gives support and advice on good practice and management to other organisations who offer volunteering opportunities, but we also support the volunteer to finding a position via our database of vacancies. Michelle talked about the forthcoming Volunteers’ Fair in Ashington – our main purpose for being there – and encouraged listeners to come along for three reasons: to meet with representatives from organisations looking for volunteers, to gain valuable volunteering information, and last but certainly not least to pick up a free cupcake!
I then explained the idea behind my Volunteering Adventures in Northumberland blog series and how I hoped my posts would show people the variety of opportunities and experiences that are out there and encourage others to start volunteering. I also expressed my surprise (only four months on from beginning to volunteer) at being a guest on an (actual!) radio station.
While we were at the radio station Ian Conway, Koast’s Business Development Manager, generously offered his help at our forthcoming Fair. In fact, when the day came round Ian and his colleagues provided some great entertainment with music (and dancing!!) to help us celebrate National Volunteers’ Week.
Thanks to Michelle and the team from NCVA, the set up for the event went very smoothly and apart from the rain, a problem with defiant shutters that would not open, and blue tack that refused to stick (due to the high humidity levels), all went well. The Fair was very well attended by organisations who wanted to recruit volunteers and there were a lot of interested people wandering in to find out more.
In fact, I was lucky enough to speak to two prospective volunteers who had apparently heard about the Fair through an Occupational Therapist at the Recovery College at Ashmore House. One lady wanted a voluntary role that would specifically help her to gain a social care college placement. But both were eager to gain experience that would set them on the road to a new career, to do something that would help others and use the skills they already had.
I also met Vicky, who works at Newcastle Building Society in Ashington and had been given time by her employer to volunteer her services at the Fair. She readily jumped in to help set up the room and decorate the place and get things ready. Vicky explained that the building society actually offers all of its staff 2 days per year paid leave to volunteer for good causes. I was amazed at this level of generosity, both from the perspective of the employee and the employer. Indeed, it is heart-warming in these times of ‘cut backs’ and scarce resources to know that there are corporate bodies out there who, rather altruistically, take on board such social responsibility.