Sarah Garner shares her story this Volunteers’ Week

It’s national Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June). This week, is about celebrating and saying thank you to volunteers across the UK who give up their time to help others.

We caught up with Sarah Garner, our Associate Director for the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Children’s Services, who tells us about her volunteering experience…

Who or what inspired you to volunteer?

My son inspired me to start volunteering. A friend of mine volunteered at a young people’s learning disabilities social group, so my son and I went along to that.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

It was something that was so completely different to anything I had done before! It wasn’t work related and it enabled me to support my community.

I loved it mainly because it was good fun, pushed me out of my comfort zone and I learnt new skills.

How do you juggle your volunteering with work and family life?

It was one evening a week for three hours, so I was able to fit it in with my family and work life.

How does volunteering make you feel?

It made me feel proud to volunteer with so many wonderful young people; it was the funniest three hours of my week! They made me laugh so much, taught me a lot about them and they accepted me into their group.

I was the outsider joining in, not the other way round! I did lots of things that I wouldn’t normally do. I refereed a pool competition between the young people and the police. I improved my swing ball skills, sang karaoke and visited places like the fire station and playing sports. I could never get the hang of computer games so in the end they decided I just couldn’t do it, but not before trying to teach me endlessly.

It also made me realise how amazing they all were, advocating for themselves when meeting with professionals, working, going out socially, learning new skills and all the amazing things they were so good at.

During your time volunteering, what have you been most proud of?

I am most proud of the new friends that I have, and also that it’s something my son and I did together.

Do you have any advice for somebody thinking about volunteering?

Just do it, you won’t regret it.  You will learn more than you put in!

If you would like to volunteer your time there are a number of ways to find charities that might need your help. If there is a local charity you know of and would like to support, it’s best to contact them directly, via their website or social media, to find out if they are looking for volunteers at this time.

If you feel inspired by Sarah’s story– please send us your volunteering stories, photos, videos or anything you would like to share.

Visit the Volunteers’ Week website for more information.

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