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Volunteers Week 2020 - Volunteer Stories & Thank You

5 Jun 2020 - 14:16 by barkery.jammeh

 

Hi all,

As we reach the end of Volunteers week 2020,  I hope you will agree that we have had some fantastic stories shared this week and the last two below are no different. As we said in our original post to start the week, due to the circumstances we we're not able to get involved in as much stuff as we would normally and hopefully next year things will be back to 'normal'  whatever that means. It certainly has been "different" this year but it hasn't stopped people continuing with the great volunteer work they do..... which doesn't surprise us because as in the words of Tony Wilson, "This is Manchester and we do things diffrently here."

Our last two stories of the week come from David and Caroline and are a great way to wrap up the Volunteer stories for this year. 

We at Volunteer Centre Manchester would like to offer a special thank you to all volunteers throughout Manchester and it's surrounding areas and we hope to see you all in good health this time next year.

Stay safe x

 

Volunteer name: David Beetham

Volunteer age: 81

Where are you from: Withington, Manchester

What's your volunteer role and what do you do in that role:

I am writing this on behalf of all our volunteer members of the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop, and will answer for my own particular experience in later questions. The Fallowfield Loop is the traffic-free walking and cycling route developed by the charity Sustrans on the former railway line running between Chorlton in the west and Fairfield in the east.The Friends group was founded in 2001 with the purpose of helping maintain, improve and increase the use of the route and currently has over 100 members.

The regular activities undertaken by our volunteers include: organising rides and wildlife walks, litter picking and path maintenance, planting and maintaining three community orchards on waste ground alongside the path, publicising and promoting the Loop, developing and distributing maps and guides ot the route, running a website and Facebook group, working with the ;police to enhance the security of users, publishing a regular newsletter, and much more. Volunteers take part in these different activities according to their capacity and inclination.

How long have they been volunteering for: 
Many of our members are recent joiners, others joined when the association was founded. The activity of volunteers has expanded greatly as the Loop has become much more used by joggers, walkers, dog-walkers and cyclists of all kinds. It is now a much-loved route for travelling to work, school or shopping, or simply taking exercise and enjoyment in a green environment in the heart of urban south Manchester. It has become even more valuable in this period of lock-down and its aftermath, and will make an important contribution as cycling and walking take centre-stage in plans to renew the city's life.

How did they get involved with volunteering:
People have become involved through a variety of different channels: personal contact, through the website and Facebook, seeing our volunteers at work and chatting to them, reading the newsletter or attending one of our sponsored events. I personally became involved after hearing by chance of the inaugural meeting of the Friends in the former Fallowfield station in 2001.

Why did they get involved in volunteering:
My own personal reasons are quite typical of others: doing socially useful work from which you can see results; getting physical exercise in the fresh air; learning new skills; above all the social contact with like-minded others from all walks of life. As the climate emergency moves increasingly centre-stage, so the attraction of working to help promote walking and cycling along this green corridor will grow in importance.

What do they enjoy most about volunteering:
Naturally it has been impossible to run collective activities and maintain the social aspects of our volunteering in this period of lock-down. However, some volunteering can still be done on an individual basis.I personally have been quite busy keeping our community orchards in good shape, and it has been wonderful to see the blossom come out successively on the plum, cherry, pear and apple trees, and then see the fruit set and grow as the spring has progressed. Over the years I have developed new skills in the maintenance and pruning of the different species of fruit trees, and made contacts and shared experiences with other community orchard growers and experts.

What difference has volunteering made to your life:
I retired from full-time work nearly twenty years ago after a heart attack which led to a coronary by-pass operation. Volunteering in various roles for the Friends, including as secretary and editor of the newsletter, has proved a very rewarding way of filling the gap made by the ending of full-time work, and of reordering the priorities in my life.

How does volunteering make you feel:
Socially useful at a crucial time for the climate.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering:
Go for it, even if you have only short intervals in a busy life to spare. Most voluntary associations such as ours offer a wide range of different activities and levels of commitment to suit your personal situation and inclinations. You will find it very rewarding. In this time of lock-down there is huge scope for new volunteers to help those working at the front line or self-isolating on their own. If you would like to take part in any of the activities we run as Friends of the Fallowfield Loop, our membership secretary, Ray Dumpleton, would be only too pleased to hear from you at <raimundo26k@gmail.com>.

What’s your favourite volunteering memory:
Tending the bonfire at one of the Wassail celebrations at Twelfth Night in one of our community orchards, when we listened to carollers, drank mulled cider, watched fireworks, and hung pieces of toast laced with cider on the branches of the trees to promote rich fruiting the following summer.

 

Volunteer name: Caroline Cartmill

Volunteer age: 22

Where are you from: Didsbury, Manchester

What's your volunteer role and what do you do in that role:
I am an Admin Assistant volunteer at Revive, a charity which supports refugees and people seeking asylum in Manchester and Salford. Revive has very few paid staff, so much of it's work is organised and done by volunteers. The volunteers run programmes such as the allotment project, English language classes, well-being classes, employability programmes, translation services, and are a general friendly face and helping hand to the service-users of Revive, who are often vulnerable and in need of some help and support to integrate into a new community. Revive also have drop-in clinics for people who need social work and immigration advice, and volunteers assist staff in running this fantastic service. My role at Revive is very varied, as I do quite a few different things. One of my main roles is to seek out different funding and bid opportunities that we can apply for, as all of Revives money comes from grants and donations. A lot of the work I do is promoting and sharing the messages of Revive. I regularly post on Twitter and Facebook to spread Revive's message and achievements to the wider community, and I write press releases for the media to share our good news stories and updates. I also work hard to nominate Revive, and also some of the individual volunteers, for volunteering awards of recognition. Furthermore, I have organised visits to Revive from local MP's, councillors, and even the Lord Mayor of Manchester to show them the amazing work we do.

How long have you been volunteering for:

I started volunteering at Revive last summer (June 2019). I am a university student, and I had the summer free, so I decided I wanted to use my free time to volunteer somewhere, and make a difference to my community. After a summer of volunteering at Revive I was gutted to say goodbye to everyone and go back to uni, however I have been really lucky to be able to continue my volunteering virtually. I visit Revive when I can, and do a lot of my volunteering role remotely. I keep up to date with whats going on at Revive over WhatsApp, and then share all the messages and updates on social media. In my free time I am constantly seeking out opportunities for funding, as well as awards opportunities, and write nominations for members of the team who deserve to be recognised.
I was looking forward to volunteering at Revive again this summer, but due to Covid-19 my volunteering experience won't be quite what I hoped it to be, however I am very grateful I can still keep my virtual volunteering role, and continue to work on Revives blog, website, social media channels, and assist the team as much as I can.

How did you get involved with volunteering:

I am a trainee teacher, and a teacher I met in one of the schools I was training at told me about Revive. She is an admin volunteer at Revive too, and told me it would be an amazing place for me to volunteer at, as they are always in need of more volunteers.

Why did you get involved in volunteering:

After being recommended to volunteer at Revive by a colleague, I got in touch with the volunteering coordinator there to arrange a visit and a chat about what my role could be.
Revive welcomed me so nicely! I was greeted with a hug rather than a handshake, and I felt like a true part of the team on my first day there. Even now when I am not there in person most of the time, I still feel like a really valued team member, and there is a lot of support available if I need it.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering:

What I've enjoyed most about volunteering at Revive, is being able to meet so many people with amazing backgrounds and stories, and learning about different people and cultures every day.
I feel totally blessed that I have grown up in Manchester, a place where I have always felt safe and secure. Meeting other people who have not been so lucky in the country they are from makes me feel extremely grateful to live the life I do. What I also love about volunteering is that I have gained so much confidence from it. I used to be quite shy and quiet, however my role at Revive involved me talking to different people who I didn't know before, and reaching out to local MP's and councillors to invite them to see us, which helped me develop my spoken and written communication skills.

What difference has volunteering made to your life:

Volunteering at Revive has changed my life a lot. I feel much more knowledgable about the refugee and asylum system, and I am passionate about being an advocate for these people.
I have gained confidence, valuable work experience (which I'm hoping will help me when I apply for jobs after uni!), and most importantly I've gained amazing friendships with people from all different walks of life.

How does volunteering make you feel:

Volunteering at Revive makes me feel appreciated. I know that anything I do, big or small, is really appreciated by the service-users and staff at Revive.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering:

I would recommend volunteering to anybody! Even if you only have an hour free every week, there is something you can do to support your community. There is a qoute that says "One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time" and I think that is totally true. There are a lot of causes and charities in Manchester who are desperate for volunteers to keep there organisation running, and especially in times such as these, vulnerable people need more support than ever.

What’s your favourite volunteering memory:
The highlight of my volunteering at Revive, has to have been when we were nominated and won the 'Blossoming Communities' award at The Be Proud Awards, 2019. It was amazing to attend the awards ceremony, and meet volunteers from all different organisations in Manchester. It made me feel really proud to be a Mancunian!

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