I have been an advocate of volunteering for as long as I can remember and used to run a volunteer programme for the The Big Issue Cymru in Cardiff however when I found myself on hard times I turned to volunteering as a way of getting out of the house, making new friends and finding a new purpose in life.
At a time when I felt like I had been stuck on the shelf waiting for something to happen in my life and after taking some time out of work to bring up my 6-year-old son it seemed I had lost all my self-worth and confidence. I had been a manager in the Third Sector, I had attended conferences and I had managed people but trying to get myself back on the career ladder after a rather long sabbatical was seeming almost impossible. I had taken some time to re-train and had re-certified myself in skills such as Project Management, Institute of Leadership qualifications and even a course in Professional Leadership and Management; none of which had gotten me a job and I began to feel out of touch with the world. At one point I had participated in a month-long interview process and out of 6000 candidates with only two of us in the running I was pipped to the job by a younger model with no children….
So why was it that ‘I’ turned to volunteering?
I volunteer because it has given me a new lease of life and purpose and it has offered me the ability to learn new skills, find new friends and more importantly find myself and have fun whilst I am doing it. I volunteer in a local PDSA charity shop in Penarth South Wales because I am able to help out when my son is in school, and I have learned many new skills from helping in the Stock Room, Visual Merchandising by creating eye-catching window, shop displays, assisting on administrative tasks and even making suggestions for fundraising initiatives. I know that the time I give can help raise money for a ‘Vet To Care For A Pet’.
The PDSA was founded in 1917 by an animal welfare activist called ‘Maria Dicken’ CBE whose main priority was to help sick animals who may have died needlessly without the charity. It was founded to help fund treatment of sick and injured pets of owners that are in need.
I had a cat Lizzie who had been hit by a car and the wonderful team in Cardiff helped save her life after she lost her eye and broke her jaw in the incident.
Volunteering at the PDSA to me is about giving back my time for their help and I really enjoy working at the Penarth Shop as although I am giving back I am getting more back in return. I have a new sense of energy, drive and motivation and I am trusted and respected by the management team.
Pauline Masters has been running the Penarth shop for over 20 years and has a fantastic team of volunteers; some of which have been volunteering for the same length of time which is absolutely remarkable. The shop is always bustling and our customers are loyal and so are those that bring in donations without which we would not be able to raise funds for the vet hospitals. Everyone is welcoming and I have gone on to key volunteer training where I have the authority to help in the managers absence. Retail is a new area for me and paired with my management qualifications I feel it may offer me a change of career that I might not have considered in the past.
You see volunteers comes from all walks of life and you do not have to be retired or lacking in skills to volunteer. Young or old, skilled or not everyone is welcome; it is fun and challenging. Volunteering gives you many opportunities in areas such as shops, hospitals, in offices or in fundraising teams to name a few and you get to learn new skills and make new friends as you continue, there are also lots of volunteer agencies like Volunteer Wales. The PDSA is special and you are acknowledged and thanked for what you do from volunteer meals, annual awards and they have even been awarded as an organisation for their work within volunteer engagement.
For me I volunteer in the shop in Penarth and it is a great place to start with a friendly management team and volunteers from all walks of life.
What are you waiting for? I am glad I didn’t!
The more people volunteer the more we can help, learn new skills and have fun at the same time….
The Gossiping Mum
4 Comments Add yours
Hi my name is Mary cope I love animals and would like to know if I can put my name forward for volunteering work I’m not working at the moment so I have plenty of time on my hands I live at 23, Bailey’s Court which is just opposite the Cardiff prison hope to hear from u.
Hi Mary, where would you like to volunteer?
The best place to decide os by visiting the PDSA website. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-for-pdsa