Welcome to the final blog post in our mini series from Macc staff and their adventures in the world of volunteering.
Today we hear from Jack Puller. Jack is a Development worker and Team Leader at Volunteer Centre Manchester and has been with us since November 2013. Check out Jack's great story below :-)
It's very fitting that I should be ask to write something about my volunteering experiences - I recently observed my 10 Year Volunteering Anniversary:
I have lots of great experiences that are linked to the volunteering I undertake, but there is one period that sticks out in my mind, almost at the very beginning of ‘my journey’:
Rewind to early 2009; I’d just taken the decision to drop out of university (!). All things considered, I’d struggled with university life and self-directed study - add to this, I had the notion of “I want to start work now” continually washing over me. Having worked for a well-known supermarket since 2004, retail quickly became the career for me.
I might add a GOOD career it would likely have been too!
My last day in retail, 2010
I’ve been a volunteer with a Manchester-based charity (that works with and for older people across the City of Manchester) since 2007.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve been called lots of things and have stepped into a number of different roles and responsibilities as a volunteer; including and not limited to:
• Day Centre Support
• Cafe Support
• Writing a monthly Newsletter
• Digital Technology Support
• Managing - and creating content for Social Media…
I imagine (and hope), that this variety will be a familiar feature of the next 10 years.
I also worked for the organisation for a spell from 2010 – recruiting and managing volunteers as part of an access at home digital inclusion project for older people.
I wouldn’t say that volunteering for the organisation was what ultimately clinched the position for me (though I may be wrong!). It did however; act as a real ‘palette cleanser’ - by this I mean volunteering (whether it was for 1 or 6 hours a week), gave me that opportunity to think about my own situation – and outlook differently.
I remember thinking, “who’d of thought it, giving my time freely to the benefit of someone or something else is really giving me some direction!”.
"It has been the making of me…"
...I say this a lot! And by 'eck do I mean it!
These days, I work for Volunteer Centre Manchester (which helps people make strong and meaningful connections with charities and good causes – as volunteers and supports volunteer-involving organisations to do what they do correctly, safely, legally, soundly – and more over, innovatively).
My past and present experiences of volunteering serve me well when talking with others (I’ve got a great anecdote about a knitting pattern if you’ve got time?), and it has made me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I feel better equipped to express myself – at meetings and when presenting information or training to groups both large and small and have made lots of social connections along the way (a number of which I consider to be some of the dearest friends I have!).
I should also note that my story hasn’t (really) finished…
…and I don’t think that it will either!
You’ll note how (for the most part), I’ve supported the same organisation. One of the things I like most about volunteering is:
“You can stack shelves (in a well-known supermarket) by day and be an advocate to older people by night (that was me!), or you can be an Investment Banker by day and support a young person who is at risk of offending or experiencing hardship by night”.
Add to this:
“…you can do something for 5 minutes, 3 weeks, 6 months – 10 years! Knowing that at any time you can change your situation by volunteering in a completely different way or with a new cause you feel strongly about”.
More recently, I’ve been volunteering as an Aspirational Mentor with a young person in a school that is local to where I live in South Manchester.
More on that in a future blog?
For now: “Here’s to the next 10 years!...” and thanks for reading!