Why I volunteer

Dealing with change – Omar’s story
I was in my previous job for 20 years, driving and delivering. I was made redundant in 2013 and was unemployed for a long time. I had a stroke in May 2014 which left me with severe nerve damage in my left arm. I had my first heart attack in 2009 and my second in January 2014. I was very stressed from not working for two years. I’m getting back to normal but I can’t do heavy lifting and need to avoid stress.

I decided to do volunteer work in April 2015. I had done admin work before in the offices of the car hire company I was working for. I felt that volunteering would give me more experience, something to do with my time and get other people to trust me on this type of work.

Admin work is less stressful and now I’m hoping to get a job in administration. I like meeting new staff and new people. Everyone is friendly here and there is a good atmosphere. Everyone is willing to help each other. I help to run stalls at events, update the database, keep accurate records and enjoy working as part of a team.

I’m willing to show people how to use computers and share my knowledge. I also go to Mencap to get help in taking my next step in my new career. I’d like people to know that they might have a disability or have had long-term health issues but they are still able to do some voluntary work. It keeps you occupied and you learn new things as it progresses. I also volunteer with the Stroke Association as an Ambassador and St John’s Ambulance as a Response Driver


From taps to tech – Rowan’s story

I had decided to change careers, from plumbing to IT, and soon found that almost all employers require you to have some ‘real world’ experience in a work environment. Volunteering made sense for me – it’s been a great way to gain experience and study at the same time, as well as gain professional references.

I hadn’t worked in an office before but am now IT Support for Volunteer Centre Greenwich. As my background is in plumbing and construction, it’s given me a chance to see if working in such a setting would be suitable for me.

I volunteer one day a week and have been involved in choosing a new database, updating the website and supporting staff with their computers. I’ve also been asked to help staff deliver social media training. Getting the chance to take on a range of responsibilities is really helpful for me to develop my CV and see which area of IT support I would like to progress into.

I’ve really enjoyed the placement and am now considering more volunteer opportunities. I would really recommend volunteering to anyone considering a career change.