Life as a Volunteer Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and bring a variety of skills and experiences to the service. People choose to volunteer for a number of reasons, for some volunteering can be a route to employment or a means of learning new skills to change career. Volunteering for others means giving something back to the local community and making a difference in someone’s life. It may also be a way to reduce social isolation, make new friends and build lifetime friendships. Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding investments you will ever make. Whatever your motivation, we appreciate your contribution as a volunteer and will provide access to all relevant training, support and advice from your line manager and the volunteer community navigator. Whether you have a little or lots of time to give, there should be a volunteering opportunity available to help you make a difference. Christina's story.... "Around April 2020 a month into lockdown, feeling a little isolated as a family we started having daily walks and spending more time in our little garden. At this time, my daughter and I became interested in gardening, although we had no idea where to begin, we started growing vegetables using grow bags, as we only have a small concrete garden. During this time, I saw a Facebook post from the Dorothy Parkes Centre asking for homemade scarecrows for their community allotment. This was the first I had heard of the community allotment and thought this would be a great little project to do with my daughter during lockdown in the garden. We went on to have great fun making Dotty the scarecrow, searching for things to use as materials around the house. Once Dotty was stuffed and dressed in her best attire, I replied to the Facebook post and arranged to drop Dotty off. It was then we met Rob, and he explained a little more about the community allotment detailing to me how they would be seeking volunteers to get involved in the maintenance of the allotment. It was at this point I expressed my interest in volunteering with my daughter. Shortly after I had a volunteering interview with Fionnuala where I expressed my reasons for wanting to get involved. My reasons for wanting to volunteer were wanting to be involved in the community where I live, spending more time outdoors, learning more about growing vegetables, educating my daughter how food is grown and to help me with anxiety around socialising with new people. Fi also explained that the food grown on the allotment would be donated to a local food bank which I was happy to hear we would be giving back to the community in this way. Around July 2020 things were beginning to open again and we were able to meet on the allotment to get started with our volunteering journey. I feel very privileged to have this allotment in my community and although initially nervous to be in a social situation I soon felt at ease. I learned that the other volunteers had similar incentives as myself for helping at the allotment. The benefits of volunteering on the allotment has been an improvement in my anxiety and mood, making new friends, learning new skills, spending more time outdoors, feeling part of a community, quality time with my daughter and teaching her the value of volunteering. As a parent it has been a delight to observe the curiosity and wonder in my daughter, when she hears the robin sing, finds worms while planting or spots the fox. Volunteering at the allotment has opened further opportunities to undertake training, such as mandatory health and safety training and horticultural training which has been of benefit to me away from the allotment. I am now also involved in another group located at the allotment called the Play Plot team. This is currently still in its planning stage; however, I have received safeguarding training, Go Play Sandwell training and completed an accredited ‘Volunteers in Play’ course. I am excited to be involved in this and feel it will be a great addition to the community and encourage more outdoor play for children. It has been lovely to see the progress with the allotment so far, it truly has been transformed and has so much potential to serve the community." (Maintenance volunteer and Play Plot volunteer) If you'd like more information on volunteering at the allotment, the Centre or in the local area, please complete an enquiry form.