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Volunteers’ Week Day 7: OCVA

June 7, 2023

Jenny at Larkmead School EventVolunteers week- a blog

I have been volunteering on and off since I was 16- or at least that was the first time I acknowledged it was formal volunteering. I certainly spent enough time as a child making cups of tea at events or singing at old people’s homes to make me question when my informal volunteering roles started. My parents had always volunteered when I was growing up too- in local committees, at a community hub and befriending.

My roles have varied hugely from the very formal school governor and trustee to the less formal helper at school events or jumble sales. Whether it’s been governance, raising money, running a youth club, preschool or community projects I have done quite a bit.

The thing I ask myself now, and being in this professional role, is why? What motivated me from a young age to give up my time and energy to help my community? Was it a sense of giving back? Improving things? Socialising? Was it linked to my values or was it circumstantial? I expect a little bit of everything mixed into one.

As a young student spending time with the local public health team looking at teenage pregnancy and sexual health, I felt my opinion mattered, my view respected and I was learning about a world I knew nothing about. As a parent of two young children attending committee meetings and running events kept my brain stretched, learning new skills, meeting new people and gave me a sense of fulfilment. Becoming school governor to a special school was a steep climb, motivated by my curiosity to know more and my value of bringing something to the table that maybe was useful. My longest role was chair of a youth organisation for ten years. In that role I manged budgets, staff, volunteers, activities, and events. I learnt how to apply for funding, how to read financial reports, understand constitutions and support volunteers. I think in all my roles this is the one that defined me the most. It helped me grow as a person, stretching my own communication skills and understanding how to build relationships of a very different type. Volunteer roles are so very different to paid and building connections with people so very important.

As we reflect during volunteers week about how to recruit volunteers, retaining our existing ones, rewarding where we can and reviewing how we operate I think its mindful to think about why we have volunteered, why our volunteers chose to spend their time with us and what we have to offer.

  • I volunteer because I can,
  • I volunteer because I enjoy the activity,
  • I volunteer because I care,
  • I volunteer because I want to,

However you are marking volunteers week I wish you all the best and if you ever want someone to reflect with get in touch.

Jenny Bowley

Volunteer Development Officer

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