Charlotte tells her story about volunteering including reminiscences about her grandmother and her own career as a volunteer manager

so thank you, Charlotte. Thanks for your time. Um, So I'm gonna ask you what effect has volunteering had on your personal and professional life? Um, so I would say volunteering has affected me both personally and professionally, and I'm really happy to share a story. Some stories, really, Just to illustrate that

So, um, thinking back to my childhood, my probably earliest memory of volunteering was of my nanny, who was a British red Cross shop volunteer in South Rice lip. She absolutely loved her volunteering. Um, and I saw what a massive difference it made to her life in retirement

It gave her purpose. It gave her a circle of friends. Um, and whenever I went to see her or speak to her, all she would talk about was going to the shop and her experience of volunteering

And I think from a really early age that had an impact on me because I saw, um, maybe I probably wasn't conscious of it at that time, but I did see the impact that volunteering had on her as an individual and the joy and that it brought her. And what she got out of that, um I was really lucky recently to find, um, her five year service, British Red Cross pin, which is now mine, and a very treasured possession of of hers. And then I think my next experience of volunteering and the impact it had on me was, um, through my teenage years

So my parents, um, owned and run an ice hockey team. So for years, every winter weekend, Um, I gave up. Well, we all gave up our time to, um, run this ice hockey team

So on the match nights, I was, um, a timekeeper. And then it was during my gap year at school, and we have received some funding to run an ice hockey for school scheme. So, um, I love all that kind of coordination and organisation and supporting local communities

So I was responsible for running that scheme during my gap year. And what I would say throughout all of that is that I never once thought of myself as a volunteer or also the people that we were working alongside as volunteers. It was just something that we were all really passionate about

And the only way that we could make, um, the games and the events happen were to give to give our time, but I never thought of myself as a volunteer, which looking back is actually really quite interesting. Interesting. Um, but again, that was hugely important to me and had a massive impact on me personally in terms of, um, putting my passion into something that I cared about but also learning skills

So, through running the ice hockey for school scheme, I learned some really brilliant skills, which then helped me in later life and was something that I could draw on as part of my like, future career development. Um, my first kind of more formal experience of volunteering was when I was, um, on my placement year from university and I worked for, um, a police force where I had responsibility for training and, um, recruiting special constables. So that was kind of my first experience of more formalised volunteering

And actually, from my perspective, it was some of the more frustrating elements of volunteer management in terms of trying to get them to book onto training. Um, not being able to get in touch with people and hear back from them, but it was so important to keep these um, offices operational that we had that opportunity. But there was obviously something in that that sort of piqued my interest in volunteering and volunteer management

Because when I was looking for a new job, I remember really clearly. And I've still got this cut out upstairs, Um, is, uh, was an advert in the local paper for a volunteer voluntary services coordinator in my local hospice. I applied and was absolutely delighted to, um, be offered the job

And it was just one of the most rewarding jobs I think I've ever I've ever had. So I remember starting that job on Volunteers Week. So the first of June, a number of years ago, I walked into the hospice and there was balloons up everywhere

There were signs saying, Thank you Volunteers. This was years ago when the Volunteers Week sign was a star and a blue and red Sorry, a black and red star. There were stars stuck all over the walls

And I remember saying to my then boss, What's this Volunteers Week all about? What? What is it? Well, like little little did I know, Um but it was just the most wonderful role because it was working alongside the volunteers, making sure they had the support that they that they need really getting to know them. Um, and actually, for me, it was all the lovely sides of volunteer management. So I remember writing endless birthday cards, sending flowers, organising incredible, thank you events to make sure that they felt rewarded and recognised

Um, but I think one of the things I noticed really within that my first job in volunteer management was people's motivations for volunteering. And in that kind of hospice sector, the the largest, um, motivation was for people giving something back. So they had had a personal experience of, um, the hospice and and their loved one being cared for by them

And that was very much why they were were volunteering. So that really, um, struck me. And that was my first kind of professional, um, real foray into into volunteering and volunteer management

And one thing that I just want to say about volunteering is the the impact that it can have on the volunteers. So I'm really passionate about the impact that volunteering has on the organisation in achieving its mission and being able to support um um Yeah. So really passionate about the impact that volunteers has have on an organisation and enabling them to achieve their mission vision and making a real difference to the beneficiaries of the the charity

However, I experienced, um, a wonderful story of a volunteer and the difference that volunteering had on them as an individual. So I distinctly remember, um, this gentleman coming to the hospice and saying that he wanted to be a volunteer gardener. He had struggled to find work for a number of years, and this had really affected his confidence and his mental health, and and he wasn't being given an opportunity to contribute

So I worked with him to give him the opportunity to be a volunteer gardener. And over the weeks and months, I saw, um his confidence and his demeanour really change. Um, and a number of months later, he came to me and he said, I'm really sorry, Charlotte

He said, I I'm so sorry. I have to leave my volunteering. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, like why? Um he said, because I've got a job and I just haven't got time to to do both, but I'm so sorry

I'm going to really miss my volunteering. Um, and like, I'm really grateful for the opportunity. But I, I you know, I've got a job, and it was just the most wonderful outcome for for him as an individual

I mean, the gardens were looking beautiful because he'd done a cracking job on those anyway. Um, but seeing that outcome for him was just brilliant. Um, I bumped into him probably about eight years later at my local train station

I had no idea if he would remember me, but I remembered his name and everything, and I went up to him and said, you know, hi. Not sure if you remember me from the hospice, and he did. And we just had the most lovely, um, conversation about how he was getting on now and the work that he was doing

So that is kind of the one volunteer. When I look back and see the like, the transformative effect that volunteering can have on him or on on individuals themselves that always, um, stick sticks with me, Um, in terms of my ex, like my personal experience of volunteering. So I I've mentioned about my, um, ice hockey volunteering, which where I didn't actually consider myself as a as a volunteer

Um, but probably more notable now is my experience as a volunteer, um, as a volunteer trustee. So I guess what led? Well, not I guess what absolutely led me to volunteer was my own personal experience. So, um, I had been through a personal neonatal experience with the birth of my daughter and was supported really heavily by a charity throughout that period of time

Um, and when the opportunity to become a trustee for that charity came up, I absolutely, um, jumped jumped at it. It was something one of those you know, when you see an opportunity and you think Oh, my gosh, this is just for me. I just I really, really want this, um, I? I would not I don't think have the, um I don't think I would be able to go on a neonatal unit and support parents directly

I think that would be too difficult for me emotionally, given my own experience. But what this gave me and is is giving me is an opportunity to give back and contribute to a charity that I really care about and make a difference to It's kind of long, longer term, strategic and future of of the organisation. So that is something that is really, really special, Um, to me

And I guess I would really love to do more volunteering. And when I sit here and think, Well, why why don't you like, Why don't I volunteer more? Um, it it's possibly a time thing and a flexibility. So, um, you know, being a parent of a young child, working full time being a trustee, having time available to me can be really challenging

So, um, what? But what that means for me as a volunteer management professional is that I'm really conflicted. So I I know that we need to make volunteering more open and we need to make it more flexible, and we need to make it more community led easier to access. But then, when I sit here as a volunteer manager or somebody that's in that kind of role, I'm thinking about risk

I'm thinking about compliance. Um, I'm thinking about safeguarding and all of those really practical things that as a volunteer manager has always been drummed into me. This is what we need to make volunteering happen safely

But then, as an individual, I want to volunteer more, and I can't because there's not those opportunities that are available available to me. So and I think then that steps up one step further when I have got my governance hat on from a trustee perspective. Again, I'm looking at the governance that surrounds volunteering

But I think for me as an individual, that is something that is a real challenge and a conflict between my personal and my professional opinion. One of the other things, um, is that it's important to me as an individual is kind of the, um, experience. I have of, um, communities and the role that I play as an active citizen in communities

So, um, in one of my previous volunteer management roles, um, it was for working for a disability charity where I where I learned a lot more about being a far more, um, understanding, empathetic citizen and member of community. So, um, that might have been learning a few basic signs in British sign language to be able to communicate and make the deaf community feel more engaged and involved and heard and included, and as an individual. I think that's something I have a real responsibility for as a as a parent

So I want to expose my daughter to being a good citizen and getting involved in volunteering and learning about, um, like communities and helping and supporting people. So one of the other things that I would I really look for is opportunities for things that we can do together. Um, so examples of that in this, um, disability charity there was a A Children's Christmas party, and my daughter came along with me for the day and we were taking photographs of the event she had a little role to do, but it it gave her exposure to, um, a different environment, and it enabled her to get involved, give something back and and learn

Um, more recently, um, I've delivered some. We went out for a walk together, uh, last weekend delivering leaflets to promote a fundraising event for for another charity. So I do see it as my responsibility as a just a like a decent human being to do something that helps and supports others and how I pass that down to to her So also, anything that we're able to do together, um, and be flexible is also really important

Um, to me, I think that's how it's impacted me personally and professionally. Thanks. Well, that that was definitely that covered

A whole range of things of things that, um so I'd really like to thank you for your time. And unless you have anything else you wanted to add, I'm gonna stop recording. Yeah, that's all

Thanks, Ruth. Thanks.

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