I decided to volunteer because I had been out of work for a long time and I thought it would be beneficial to me and others. I am a parent to four children and when I began volunteering they had all started school and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
My role as champion is to deliver different health campaign messages. I remember the prostate cancer campaign: we had a stall on Portobello, where we gave samples of vegetable curry. We also gave men information on the signs of prostate cancer, and how treatable it is. At first, it’s a bit difficult to talk about prostate cancer in the street, but the more they saw that we were knowledgeable and genuine, the more they were happy to chat about it.
The best thing about volunteering for the project is that it listens to our ideas. You can tackle a big subject like prostate cancer over curry, or mental health recovery whilst dancing. It’s so varied. They hold a big event every year that brings together hundreds of champions to celebrate all our work. It’s really fun and we are made to feel special.
The best bit about volunteering for me is a sense of purpose – and I’ve done lots of accredited training: it gave me new skills, but it also showed me that I already had a lot of skills. It has led to me getting paid employment, which is great for me and my family. And it has allowed me to give back to my own community.
The biggest difference volunteering has made to me is that I now have a job. But I think on another level, it’s how I use the training: I listen to people differently, including my children. I understand how to encourage people to make health and other improvements in their lives, and why people sometimes don’t make changes. There is so much, I can’t even say it all.
Volunteering changed my life, and it could change your life too.
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