Vocational Rehabilitation (Volunteering)
Midlands Air Ambulance (Charity Shop)
I worked in the charity shop basement store room sorting clothes into same-sized (small, medium, large, etc.) and putting them onto hangars. I was offered the role after I walked into the shop and asked them if there was any way in which I could help. I was satisfied to do the clothes sorting, however, it wasn’t mentally stimulating and there were often no people around to chat to, so I decided to move on a little.
Royal Voluntary Service (RVS)
I undertook voluntary work for the RVS after doing research on a volunteer’s web site named: www.do-it.org. I principally befriended two people: Trevor and Gloria. Trevor was a very awkward person who I struggled to like, but nevertheless I persevered. There came a point where he was just too unpleasant with his attitude about some of the people in his life who cared about him that I had to withdraw from befriending him as he made me feel uncomfortable. Trevor was a person who was right about everything, even when he was plainly wrong. I became good friends with a lady named Gloria, she was lovely and I know we shall remain friends for good.
A third person I briefly helped was a ninety year old man who lived in Trentham, I’d take him by car to Haywood hospital every week to visit his son who’d had a stroke. I visited Broadfield Ward where I had been a patient myself. Some staff remembered me - I had apparently told them that I was injured from a roller coaster crash on the Smiler ride at Alton Towers.
The RVS asked me to do an interview with the Staffordshire Evening Sentinel regarding my work with them, a PDF of the interview can be accessed by following this link.
Newcastle Library (IT Buddy)
I seemingly stepped up from befriending to doing basic IT work by helping the elderly and unskilled to use email or search engines or comparison web sites, etc. I started off doing one four-hour shift at the library, but after a month I enjoyed it so much that I would do two eight-hour days each week. The library staff would sometimes have to insist that I went for a break to get my lunch.
It quickly became apparent that IT was about ten per cent of what the IT buddy role entailed, empathy was central and my RVS work had likely helped me on that score. I dealt with people who had physical impediments, severe dementia and terminal cancer. I enjoyed my IT buddy role immensely and I became good friends with a number of library staff. Upon leaving my IT buddy role to return to professional employment I wrote the piece in the snippet shown below for the library to put in a case study they were developing. I miss being an IT buddy not for the work, but for the feeling of making a difference to people’s lives, I think it could be referred to as altruism.