Full-time Volunteering: Harry’s Story

“Before joining Volunteering Matters, I was studying Illustration at Brighton University. I heard of the organisation through my dad who had been a volunteer himself when he was nineteen in the days of CSV. He always spoke very fondly of his time with the charity and had commented on it being a very enriching experience. I’ve always had a desire to help people and to do something that really mattered.  When I graduated from art school I had no clear direction as to where to go next but realised I had the luxury of not being tied down by anything and was therefore in the position to give my time to help those who needed it.

I’m volunteering as a full-time volunteer with the North Lanarkshire Befriending Project and I know, from the children that I’m helping, that I am making a difference and that is a very fulfilling feeling. The main challenge came at the start of the project when I was meeting the children for the first time as they were, quite naturally, anxious about meeting me. At first it was difficult to get much conversation but once you show a ten-year-old how fast you can run, they’re pretty much instantly on your side. The children are now very comfortable with me and I’ve seen the confidence they have in themselves grow as they become more willing to try new things and trust of my judgement on what activities they might enjoy.

In addition to the children’s confidences growing, I have found myself becoming more confident too. The support I have received from the managers of the project has been phenomenal and I have never felt more commended for being the person that I am. My time with Volunteering Matters has allowed me to identify who I am and has pushed me to develop myself.  Voluntary work matters because it shows that there’s people out there that genuinely care for one another and are willing to offer help to those who need it.

Whilst I have been volunteering, I have been trying to develop my illustration practice. The support work and the creative work have often become entwined and I’m getting a lot of inspiration from it.

To a new full-time volunteer I would suggest that they really consider to whom this type of voluntary work is for. It’s a year for focussing on and helping others. It is a very refreshing and fulfilling thing. If you are like me, you are likely to have friends going into full-time work dedicating all their time to earning money. I feel it is them who are the ones missing out, working the 9-5 in place of an enriching experience that is a year’s voluntary work. I myself have loved the year so much that I intend to do a second!

The most rewarding thing about volunteering with the North Lanarkshire Befriending Project is when the children say, entirely by their own volition, that I am the best befriender and that they love the time we spend together. It knocks me back nearly every time and I laugh it off as I’m not aware that I am doing anything particular to justify it. It does, however, eventually filter in just how much significance I’m having in these young people at this time in their lives. I have worked 1:1 with over 10 young people this year and every single one of them has verbalised how much they value our time together. And you won’t get that sat at the desk of any ordinary desk job!”

After Volunteering

Harry has also been involved with DropPoint, a free to use platform for people to pass on items to charitable causes.  It acts as a database of information for charities and non-profit organisations to advertise for needed items. People can then search for where to donate specific items, from camping equipment to electrical goods.

He was asked to design a logo and has been involved in their branding and marketing over the last year. “When asked to design a logo for DropPoint I was pleased to play a part in it. I love the concept – it enables people to see exactly where there donations are making a difference….In a way it’s a modernisation of donating goods. You can see directly that your participation is helping others.”

If you are a charity that would like to get involved with DropPoint, get in touch on their website.

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