I think I’ve always been looking for the right volunteering opportunity – a bit like looking for that pair of jeans that make you feel good, look good and don’t cost the earth – for me very hard to find!
I’ve done lots of informal volunteering in the past – good deeds and neighbourly gestures which probably worked out fine because they weren’t planned. That’s because I’m not great at committing to being somewhere at a certain time every whenever.
I currently have two volunteering roles – both quite different. About three years ago I went to a Dementia Friends Awareness session at work. It was quite an eye-opener into the world of dementia and the session was engagingly delivered. There were activities and discussion opportunities and at the end of the session everyone was asked to commit to one thing they would do differently in the future to raise awareness of dementia. I decided to become a Dementia Friends Volunteer Champion delivering the session to other people. I was so inspired by the simple but effective way the session was delivered and signed up for the one-day training course. Since then I’ve delivered and continue to deliver (when it is safe to do so) Dementia Friends Awareness sessions and I like it when people react the way I did to some of the facts and figures. It is very sobering but delivered in an interesting way. It gives me a sense of achievement by helping to create dementia-friendly communities.
I was initially very happy with one volunteering role, especially as it fit my volunteering criteria - Dementia Friends Volunteer Champions organise their own awareness sessions so you get to choose the time and place, and they are one-off events so no long-term commitment! However, one day at work I was chatting to Vanessa from Derby Sound Radio – a community radio station run by volunteers - about the possibility of running a workshop at Community Action (where I work in my day job as Communications Co-ordinator) to help local community organisations promote themselves on the radio. One thing led to another and I went on the half-day course to find out how I could record sound bites and short what’s on guides to promote Community Action. It may be something to do with being involved in lots of drama groups when I was younger or my love of music but the two things came together and I found that I really got the bug. A few months later a lunchtime slot became available on Derby Sound Radio and with Vanessa’s encouragement I jumped in with both feet. And I have to say that I absolutely love it. I went from feeling like many people - hating hearing my voice played back, worrying about what people would think, or saying ‘errm’ too many times or having a northern accent, or just being rubbish at it – to quite quickly discovering that I really enjoyed it, and now even have guests on my show most weeks to chat about community organisations.
The whole Derby Sound Radio volunteer experience has given me back the confidence (that I didn’t realise I had lost) and interests I had when I was a lot younger – my love of music never waned and I’ve always gone to lots of gigs but I had never revisited the ‘performer’ in me (although I had agonised over joining amateur dramatics groups but always talked myself out of it – “I won’t be any good” blah, blah). So, for me I feel about 30 years younger and I’ve learned such a lot – about myself as well as lots of technical stuff. If this time last year someone had told me I would have a radio show and be working on another one I would have laughed (but secretly wished it could happen). The Derby Sound team/ family is incredibly welcoming and supportive and are always looking for volunteers so if you fancy it - don’t think about it - just give it a go!
If your organisation would like to hold a Dementia Friends Awareness session please get in touch and when it is safe to do so I’d be more than happy to deliver one. Jayne.email@example.com
You can hear the show I present on Derby Sound at 1pm on Tuesdays – the Ones at One show. Number one hits, community chat and music trivia. www.derbysound.org.uk click ‘listen live.’ And if you’d like a request or you'd like to promote your community organisation on the show email firstname.lastname@example.org Derby Sound has music for everyone (check out the schedule) and is a great champion of all things Derby.