Jenny Bruton volunteers for not one, not two, but three organisations! Read about her varied roles below, what she gets out of them and why she thinks you should get involved in volunteering…
Name of volunteer: Jenny Bruton
How did you get involved in volunteering? I volunteer for three organisations, and have got involved with each one for different reasons.
It was some information in the Library and Village Newsletter asking for volunteers to help keep our village Library open that got me interested in that. I have been a member of the Guide Association from the age of 7 and that led to becoming a Leader at age of 18. I have been involved in different capacities ever since. Finally, I saw a leaflet asking for volunteer ushers when I was buying tickets at the Theatre Box Office in 2007 and 10 years on I am still volunteering at Chipping Norton Theatre.
What does your volunteering involve / describe a typical volunteering session?
Volunteering at the Library: A 2hr session involves helping our Library manager with practical tasks e.g. shelving returned books, packing up books to go to other libraries. We also engage with the Library users helping where needed e.g. using the self-service machine, or the online library catalogue. If asked, we can suggest other titles they may enjoy.
Guiding Association: I am no longer actively involved with the younger members of Girl guiding but I do support the local Senior Section group by acting as Treasurer. My other role is as a member of the Committee of Friends of Girl guiding Oxfordshire which exists to raise money to support all aspects of Girl guiding in the County. We hold several fund-raising events during the year. I also act as Treasurer for this Committee.
Theatre at Chipping Norton: After briefing from the Duty Manager, we do a quick check of the auditorium, toilet and other public areas. Greet audience as they arrive, check tickets and direct audience members to their seats help with any queries. Sell programmes and other merchandise (depends on type of show). During the performance, we must be alert for any problems and if necessary report to Duty Manager. At end of performance see audience safely out of theatre and clear up any litter they have left behind.
What difference do you think you make through your volunteering?
The Library: Without the volunteers the village would quite likely lose the Library. Members of the public often comment on the fact that we are volunteers and so we can act as ambassadors for the Library by engaging them in conversation and introducing the idea that they too could help the in some way, either financially by e.g. becoming a Friend of the Library, encouraging more people to use the Library (and become Friends!) or maybe by volunteering themselves.
Guiding Association: By taking on part of the admin work for the Senior Section Group I am supporting the Leader, and allowing her more time to concentrate on organising the meetings and activities for the girls. The Friends of Girl guiding Oxfordshire committee has been able to support many Leaders and young women to take part in International events, we have given financial support to our County Headquarters and Camp Site to help with improvements. We have also been able to support Brownie and Guiding Units in poorer areas of the County in many small but important ways.
Theatre at Chipping Norton: Without the volunteers the Theatre would have to find money to pay the Ushers wages. By having volunteer ushers, it truly is a community resource.
What do you get out of your volunteering?
The Library: I love books! I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am helping to keep the Library open and available in our village. I really enjoy the contact with Library users and with the other Volunteers and Library manager.
Girlguiding Association: The satisfaction of knowing that as a member of Girl guiding (the largest organisation for girls and women in the country) I am helping young girls and women to be their best and fulfil their potential!
Theatre at Chipping Norton: The satisfaction of knowing that I am helping to keep the Theatre doing what it does so well! I really enjoy the contact with the audience members and also with the other Ushers and Theatre Staff. I also enjoy having the opportunity to see such a variety of films, plays, music, comedians etc.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Just do it! Chances are you will get many benefits through helping (and you can always change your mind if it is not for you).