When you stand still for just a moment in this busy world and especially now, with all the noise and fear surrounding the pandemic, isn’t it great to reflect a little? I’ve heard many friends say how this time is making them look at what life is all about and reflect on what is important and what makes them tick. I’m doing the same, thinking about what we like doing and maybe where we could change things. In amongst that, we may even be thinking about volunteering in some way. It is a wonderful thing to be able to gift some time as a volunteer – to be involved with something that is helpful and may be very different from the normal day to day.
Volunteering for me has taken on many forms over the years, and I have honestly enjoyed it all. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done this every year, and I certainly don’t want to come across as sanctimonious, I’m not! But there is so much to be gained all round, and it can fit snugly with your work/life balance. Giving some time to help out others, learning new skills, sharing your own skills with others, staying connected with old friends, meeting new people, these are just some of the many worthwhile activities on offer. Volunteering is also an enriching addition to your portfolio career.
My journey has included volunteering with HANDS (Help a Neighbour in Distress Scheme) which offers help to the elderly or isolated. This can be small acts, maybe doing a little gardening or shopping for people, but essentially being a friendly face and sometimes the only person they see or indeed speak to that day (times that x 100 in present circumstances!)
My love of Art and Art History has steered me towards volunteering at Strawberry Hill House as a room steward and more recently being a member of the Committee of the Friends of Turner’s House. Turner’s House, or Sandycombe Lodge as it is now known, was the home of the great artist J.M.W Turner which is nestled in Marble Hill, South West London. Turner himself, designed it and it is often referred to as his biggest work of art. It was a retreat for him away from the hustle bustle of London and his work. He lived there on his own with his devoted “Old dad”. To find out more about Turner’s House or how to become a “Friend” or get involved (click here.)
Let's not lose it!
The reality is, that many charities rely heavily on the steady support of volunteers and donors to keep going, without this they will flounder. It’s not easy to keep going when, for example, in the heritage sector, who rely on a steady footfall of visitors to aid funds, that stream of income has stopped overnight. Things will now look very different going forward, especially in the light of vastly restricted management of visitors. However, I don’t want to be the voice of gloom and doom, because with change there is new alignment and creativity. At Turner’s House, for instance, the quarterly lectures, offered to the friends have moved online, and we had a our first very successful Zoom lecture in May with more planned for later in the year.
Mind Health Body
I think it’s safe to say that things are topsy-turvy in the world and we all need to take good care of our mental health, trying to fathom our way through and cope with the added stresses and strains. Reaching out to volunteer in some way helps both the giver and the receiver in this respect. If you can, keep supporting your charity, and if you fancy dipping your toe in to a bit of volunteering, just go for it! It will most probably reward you in bucket loads, I know it has done for me.
Image credit: Gerd Altman from Pixabay
Fiona Grundy is a UK based Virtual Assistant, who loves 'net-walking' and clearly values volunteering as part of her portfolio