Celebrating National Volunteers Week!

This week is a chance to shine a light on the many people across the country who give up their own time on a regular basis to help others.

National Volunteer week, running from June 1 to 7, provides the opportunity to consider what volunteering actually is. Helping out with fundraising at your children’s school, running a youth football team or community event or doing regular shifts at a local charity shop along with helping to run major events are all examples of volunteering.

We are taking the opportunity to talk to members of our staff who volunteer.

Iolanda Cuomo mentors young entrepreneurs

I volunteer as a mentor for the Kent Foundation, they provide free business support to young people starting their own businesses in Kent.

We help them to grow their start-ups by giving them access to business advice and mentoring.

Because of my marketing and ecommerce background, I will get matched with someone looking for that particular skill.  I’m currently working with a guy that has created a new technology based running business.

I started my career when I was 17 in a marketing department, with only a handful of qualifications, I was fortunate enough to have an amazing manager who mentored me to improve my skills and education in marketing.

From there, mentoring is something I’ve always felt passionate about, even before I joined the charity, I would make it part of my role when managing teams.

I stumbled across this charity when they were activity looking for new mentors, that was about nine years ago and I’ve been involved ever since.

It’s rewarding sharing my experiences and seeing the benefits it brings my mentees, especially as they are just starting out in business.  Plus, working with young people is fun, they have a fresh energy, so the meetings are always enjoyable, they keep me on my toes.

For anyone who is thinking about volunteering – find something that fits with you.  Not just your skills but time as well.  If you can only spare a day a month for example, look for something that fits that.

And I’d say do something you enjoy, there are so many different options, anything from tidying up your local area, to collecting shopping to simply spending time with someone looking for company.


Lauren Oldershaw, Brownie guide leader:

When I was in my late 20s I suddenly realised I didn’t really do much outside of work.

Everyone seemed to have hobbies and pastimes and I just really didn’t do anything – then I saw an advertisement in the local parish magazine from the village Brownie pack looking for people to help run it.

It was thriving and needed more people so it could take on more girls – I literally thought I would help out an hour a week but I had soon agreed to undertake a training course and train to be a warranted Guider.

I probably thought I would stop once I had children but I fell in love with it and have now been doing it for 16 years.

I will often see young women out and about where I live and think they look familiar and realise it is because they were one of the Brownies and I feel really happy I am part of their memories.

Not only that but I have made so many friends during that time who have been a constant support – having something of mine outside of family and work has been very important.

I have had the opportunity to take part in a whole host of activities and away days and trips, celebrate milestone events and encourage shy little girls to become independent and fearless.

The beauty of volunteering is you can make a huge difference in just a short amount of time – it doesn’t have to be something that takes up all your free time.

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