My first ever shift as a CAB volunteer was Wednesday 1st September 2004.
I was looking for paid work and wanted to do some volunteering to keep me busy whilst Iooked and so I had something work wise to put on my CV. I was going to do admin and I’d said I thought I’d do six months. I wasn’t going to train as an adviser because you really needed to commit 12 – 18 months for that.
But then very quickly I was going to train to be an adviser. And then social policy came into my role there. Followed by gateway assessor. I can’t remember which way round those last two happened but I think it was that way round. It’s strange I can’t remember when they were both a big deal when they happened. And I love doing gateway now but I was so nervous of it when it came in.
Then I’d been there a year and that seemed strange. A few more years passed and I’m suddenly one of the ones who’ve been volunteering the longest. And now, today, it’s been ten years. It’s a bit like “holy crap how did that happen, surely I’m still 22 and I only graduated a few months ago?!”
I thought it would feel like a big deal and that when I was in the bureau this afternoon doing social policy I’d be thinking about it a lot. Because sometimes I feel I’ve not achieved a lot with my life since I graduated. I’ve done a lot, I know I have, but not necessarily the big life events people focus on. I’m OK with that – but it can be something I struggle with on milestones.
But actually I forgot until a few minutes ago. And really it’s just another day.
Whenever I talk to someone (often a new volunteer) about how I got involved in CAB and how long I’ve been there I often joke about it being the longest “six months” ever.
And it has but it’s been worth it, I’ve had laughs, made friends and enjoyed it. It’s stressful and you can’t always help people. I’ve probably advised hundreds of clients and I can’t remember most of them but I hope I’ve made a difference.
My “six months” of volunteering will probably continue a few more years. But, if I’m completely honest I do hope I’m not sat here on 1st September 2024 writing about how I’ve been there 20 years.
It’ll be OK if I am though.