V is for Volunteering
(how is it possible we’ve reached V already?)
I do a lot of volunteering and I have done for over ten years. It’s a great way to fill my time and allows me to make a positive contribution to society whilst working around the limitations of my disability and my inability to work in a paid role.
OK that sounds pompous and technical but basically volunteering works for me because I can do it on my schedule. I can ensure that I pretty much never volunteer two days running and that I only do a few hours at a time. If I can’t manage to go in on a day I’m supposed to it’s not a problem and if I can manage to go but only to do part of what I’m supposed to they work around it with no pressure. Plus in my CAB role there are one or two things that advisers do that I don’t to make things easier for me. Volunteering has a ton of flexibility that paid work doesn’t.
And it makes me feel good about myself (most of the time).
Mostly I volunteer for my local Citizens Advice Bureau. I’m there twice a week most weeks doing roughly 5 hours in total over the two sessions. I’ve been there for ten years and I’ve done a variety of things in my time there.
One session a week I volunteer in client facing roles which is either as a gateway assessor – doing a ten minute triage type interview with people who drop into the bureau to work out if we’re the right people to help and what sort of help they need. I quite enjoy doing those but I suck at sticking to the 10 minutes. That said pretty much everyone does. Alternatively if I’m seeing clients that might be as as adviser doing a full advice interview. That’ll be with someone whose been through the gateway process and needs further help from us.
My other session I work as Research and Campaigning coordinator which can be anything from gathering evidence to writing letters to our MP.
I’m also an involved resident with my local housing association who I rent from. Up until recently I chaired their disabled residents group but someone else has just taken over. I do things with them on a much more ad hoc basis and that can be things like helping with the annual report, contribution to the tenants news that gets sent out and attending focus groups. I’ve made a couple of friends though that and had coffee with one yesterday.,