Sue volunteers for the mental health charity Restore as an employment coach and as an usher for Chipping Norton Theatre. Have a read about her diverse volunteering roles here…
How did you get involved in volunteering?
I took redundancy retirement at 53 and found a part time job. I also wanted to find something voluntary to do – to contribute to the community, have a go at something different and continue to develop my skills and learn new ones. I used the do-it website to find opportunities locally.
What does your volunteering involve / describe a typical volunteering session?
I do two very different types of volunteering; an employment coach with Restore and as an usher for Chipping Norton Theatre.
The role with Restore involves my meeting regularly with a Restore member to support them in seeking employment (or voluntary role(s)) following a period of mental ill health. This may be identifying ways of seeking employment, producing a CV, practising interview techniques or a range of other things depending on what the individual wants to focus on.
The theatre role focuses on welcoming people to the Theatre, ensuring all is well during a performance and dealing with any situations which may arise, selling ice-creams or other merchandise and clearing up after the performance. During pantomime season it may also involve throwing chocolates operating bubble machines or anything else to help with the audience participation elements!
What difference do you think you make through your volunteering?
The role with Restore allows the organisation to offer employment coaching to more people than would otherwise be possible. I think the role helps people recovering from a mental illness by supporting a positive approach to seeking employment or volunteering opportunities.
With the theatre, they cannot operate without ushers – so it is a very practical difference of being able to put on a show. I also hope that through interaction with the audiences, they have a more enjoyable evening, feel welcomed and are more likely to return and support the theatre. I think Chipping Norton is very lucky to have such a great resource for the community (it is also a centre for a number of creative activities) and that it is important to support its continuing success.
What do you get out of your volunteering?
I have a qualification in Coaching and without the voluntary role, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to use and develop these skills further. I like seeing how the organisation works and the range of services offered and enjoy working with individuals and seeing them change and develop.
I consider the theatre role as a key part of my social life! I get to see shows for free and the Theatre regularly hold events such as quizzes for staff and volunteers. I get to meet lots of people from different and interesting backgrounds.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Give it a go! There are many more opportunities than you may think so something to suit everyone. Work out how much time you can offer and research the opportunities.