Welcome to part two of our Macc mini stories. Volunteering has been influential in helping to shape the career paths for a lot of the team here at Macc and we wanted to share them with you through our blog.
Last time we heard from Claire and next up we have Nigel Rose. Nigel is the Strategic Lead (Commissioning) at Macc and has been with us for 4 years. Nigel has a really varied and interesting volunteer history which spans over 30 years. check out Nigel's story below!
My interest in volunteering and social action was passed down to me by my mother. She was involved in all kinds of activities during my childhood, including the National Association for the Welfare of Children (now Action for Sick Children), protesting against nuclear weapons at Greenham and even a bit of tree hugging (preventing a lovely tree near our house being chopped down). She had me delivering leaflets for the Labour Party at a young age.
My first significant experience of volunteering/community action was at a work-camp in Buxton, organised by Quaker Work-camps when I was 18. Young people from across Europe worked together to collect second-hand stuff for the Buxton Oxfam Shop. It was an amazing experience, both witnessing the generosity of local people and working together as a group doing something worthwhile. It showed me what a good team looks like and how much I enjoyed being part of one. It also taught me a whole lot of drinking games.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I did another work-camp organising activities for the “inmates” of a hospital for people with learning disabilities. It was the first time the staff had had a bunch of volunteers working with them and they didn’t realise that what they perceived as normal, like undressing “inmates” in front of us, seemed to us to be breaches of basic human rights. It was my introduction to “user” rights which has been a constant theme of my work and volunteering ever since.
At university, I volunteered at a local mental hospital and got heavily involved in environmental campaigning, including very nearly getting arrested at a protest about uranium mining when an inexperienced police officer got over enthusiastic. Taught me that I wasn’t really cut out for that kind of campaigning but really admire people who are.
When I left university I became a full-time volunteer/activist, mainly focused on mental health, following on from both my brother and mother spending time in psychiatric hospital. I did all kind of things but the main organisation I worked with was Manchester MIND. At the time it was a mainly volunteer led, with a mix of people who’d used services, people who were family members and professionals. I did all kinds of things: writing guidance on medication for people who used services – the psychiatrists at the time really didn’t like that one; organising public meetings about ECT – 200 people at the town hall when they didn’t charge for its use; working with a group of people with the diagnosis of schizophrenia to develop the Schizophrenia Media Agency to challenge media myths. I learnt a lot but I also made a lot of mistakes. I could have done with a mentor.
After a few years, I got a full-time job in a community mental health team solely due to the experience, knowledge and skills learned through volunteering. Soon after that my children were born and I scaled down my volunteering for many years.
Once the children got big enough so they didn’t need so much from me I got back to volunteering but not to the same extent, as my job at the time was very demanding.
About 6 years ago I reached a point when I was burnt out and slightly mad from stress and overwork and left my job. I needed to do something different for a while. As well as studying I went back to one of my first volunteering interests - environmental campaigning, stimulated by a strong concern about global warming and what my generation was leaving behind for our children.
I got involved in Manchester wide campaigning as part of the steering group for the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan, chaired Green Chorlton and co-coordinated Chorlton Refurb – warmth without waste. For the first time more of my volunteering was based where I lived and I really enjoyed getting to know more of the people living around me and doing things locally.
Once I went back to a full-time job I had to scale down my voluntary activities again. Nowadays, I volunteer as a trustee for Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and for help to coordinate Chorlton and Whalley Range Dementia Action Group and volunteer for local events.