Caroline’s Volunteer Journey
I retired in 2018, having had a career as a dancer and later specialist teacher helping predominately dyslexic children access the national curriculum.
It was by chance that I saw Home-Start’s advert in the a local newspaper. I had not heard of Home-Start and I was curious to know more about it, as it seemed that it could offer me what I was looking for: getting involved with people and being useful. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener – I like to hear about peoples’ life experiences, their perspective on life which, in turn, helps me to try and be more adept at understanding people and their circumstances. Other skills I think I bring to my role as volunteer is the experience of teaching dance, drama and literacy skills to children of a wide range of ages and abilities, which often involved managing anxious parents which could be challenging.
I have immensely enjoyed being a volunteer for Home-start. Building a relationship with the family, working together to resolve problems with helpful and constructive support from my co-ordinator. It is immensely rewarding working as part of team – Home-Start has a wealth of knowledge and contacts to deal with almost every eventuality which is very reassuring.
It has been a roller-coaster of a year for my family as well as everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were difficulties but I kept in close contact and with enormous support from Home-Start problems were worked through with a positive outcome. It’s a challenge trying to comfort someone from a distance but we got through it together.
Volunteering has enormous rewards as you get a little ‘Buzz’ each time something works out! It has required of me to draw on all my skills and experience; but I have also learned an enormous amount about areas of life. I’ve also learned to expect the unexpected i.e. to be prepared for whatever comes your way, to realise that you can’t fix the world but you can play your part, and that however small your contribution is, it can make a huge difference. For me, there isn’t one favourite thing about being a volunteer, it’s more a general feeling of looking forward to the contact and never quite knowing what the conversation will hold.
Recently, the Mother was telling me an anecdote of how her little one, 14 months, had discovered a bottle of olive oil. He then found himself covered in it and was confused as he was unable to stand-up as it was so slippery! She laughed affectionately about this incident and I thought how wonderful it was – after a very difficult year – that she was able to respond in a normal way, without anxiety, to this incident and most importantly to share it with me and enjoy it.