When did you start volunteering?
I started volunteering with Disability Action in December 2013 and with Strabane and District Citizens Advice Bureau in March 2014.
Why did you start volunteering, what inspired you?
I had worked in the public sector for over 40 years prior to my retirement in November 2013. I wanted to keep active, give something back to the local community and also to learn new skills. Through my previous paid employment I was aware of the work of a significant number of organizations in the community, voluntary and charitable sectors and, when I retired decided to do something that would involve working directly with the general public, particularly the disabled and marginalized.
What are your duties/tasks?
In Strabane and District Citizens Advice Bureau my duties include looking after reception, meeting and greeting clients, making appointments and other general administrative tasks.
With Disability Action I’m involved with the Age No Barrier project. My main tasks include attending exhibitions/roadshows helping to promote the project and acting in an administrative role uploading information to and monitoring the project’s Facebook page.
What have you gained from volunteering?
I have learned new skills and met new groups of people in both the organizations that I am volunteering with. I have also gained a greater appreciation of the range of problems that people are experiencing, particularly in dealing with complex bureaucracy in negotiating the welfare benefits and tax systems.
What will you take away from volunteering?
I will take the following away from my volunteering experience:
- The satisfaction obtained from helping people;
- The kindness and patience of the management and staff in both organizations:
- An appreciation of the wide range of problems facing people, particularly the disabled and marginalized;
- The different approaches used in the public and community/voluntary/ charitable sectors:
- A greater understanding of the wide range of issues that both the Citizens Advice Bureau and Disability Action deal with on a daily basis.
Do you have any advice for people considering volunteering?
I would highly recommend volunteering as a way of gaining valuable experience and skills that can enhance any CV and make the volunteer more attractive to prospective employers. Volunteering also keeps the participant motivated and helps him/her to derive a high degree of personal satisfaction through interaction with and helping people.