Some of our volunteers share their experiences of volunteering.
Find out more about opportunities to volunteer with us.
As a new Good Neighbour Support Volunteer I was recently matched up with an elderly resident and have been visiting her for two weeks now.
Helping someone else makes me feel good about myself and it also helps me get out of the house. I like talking to people and having a laugh, which makes me feel happy.
For me the benefits of volunteering are that it keeps your mind active, doing the resident’s shopping keeps you fit and you get to meet interesting people.
I feel looked after as I have safety and protection from the team and the coordinators. It’s great to meet other volunteers at our regular tea and cake socials and we support each other.
After 40 years of nursing, in February 2022, I found myself in a hospital bed with COVID. The detrimental effect was enormous, mentally, physically and spiritually and when I left hospital, I was no longer fit to work. It impacted my life hugely and my husband, though very willing to help, was unable to do so, as I lay in bed or on the sofa, with no energy or desire to do anything. My life felt suddenly meaningless and I felt a burden, useless and worthless.
With long COVID, it was a bleak time for several months, until I heard about the Good Neighbour Support Volunteering scheme, helping those who were isolated. I was apprehensive as I’d lost all faith and confidence in my abilities but I have always been a ‘better self’ when connecting with other people and trying to give and this was an opportunity to try something new, that could be of value. Having been placed with two separate people and started visiting, I quickly felt a rapport with them and was amazed at how much better and lighter I felt in myself.
Whilst actively listening and hearing them, I was able to forget about perceived problems of my own. Concentrating on their needs and being privileged to enter their homes and shop for them put my life firmly in perspective and has given me more than I feel I could ever offer them.
It keeps me active, engaged and I really look forward to my visits, the responsibility of which I take very seriously. The opportunity to discuss each visit afterwards with a co-ordinator provides valuable time for reflection and a measured and useful impartial overview of the event from someone else.
I feel incredibly privileged to have this opportunity to be involved in such a worthwhile, important and valuable service in the community and it has opened up a new chapter in my life, for which I will always be grateful. I am loving life again.
Having been fortunate enough to be employed consistently for 40 years, at the age of 58 I decided to take early retirement and hoped to make all of my time my own to pursue and indulge myself in my hobbies, leisure activities and travel.
The pandemic wreaked havoc on so many of my plans, yet opportunities to do alternative and worthwhile deeds had fortunately presented themselves pre-pandemic, with the offer of training to be a ‘Mayflower Maker’ for the Mayflower 400 commemorative programme.
As a true ‘Janner’ I was eager to share my wealth of local knowledge about my home city, its history, its unique tourist offer and our local facilities, in addition to utilising my work and life skills. While much of the Mayflower 400 programme had to be cancelled, the activities that were possible were incredibly successful and our volunteer activity was very well received. ‘Mayflower Makers’ volunteering has grown into a general hub, more like a family at times, of Plymouth Community Volunteers.
The range of opportunities help keep me actively engaged in the everyday events of our wider society, keep me mentally alert and vital and the varied degrees of physical challenge are healthy for me too in an enjoyable way! I’ve learned so much from my peer volunteers and even more especially from our clients, who we see as our ‘neighbours’.
As a result of being a good neighbour I know my way around just about every supermarket and chemist premises in Plymouth, I’ve learned about various diets and allergies, sought out new and often elusive products, shared recipes, stories and histories galore and even picked up tips on cooking, cleaning and growing things!
I’ve benefited from free, ongoing training and learning opportunities to support the myriad opportunities offered through Plymouth’s volunteer manager and support team. The positive feedback and thanks received from people are fantastic rewards too, making me feel valued and needed.
We have regular, informal get-togethers where complimentary coffee and cake are welcome; tangible recognition of our effective teamwork. ‘Freebies’ are welcome benefits too, further valuing our efforts, whether in the form logo-based baseball cap, fleece, jacket or tote bag, a ballpoint pen or a lapel badge!
Being a volunteer is truly amazing in the way in which it so often gives back way more than is given out. I thoroughly recommend it!