I’ve been General Manager for just over a year now. We’ve implemented a lot of changes, redecorated the centre and made huge inroads helping local organisations – such campaigns as the QEH Children’s Ward Christmas Party and the HER Centre Gift Campaign. We’ve got more in the pipeline too. We also work really closely with Robert Owen Nursery. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved and we couldn’t do half of it if we didn’t have volunteers.
We’ve had some amazing volunteers help us out in recent times – Ruth, Kim, Kath, Madalina, Pauline, Caroline, Zara, Melissa and Zoya and now Sibel, Besa and Alison. Our back office staff are also volunteers, Sarah who organises our social media, Sibel who helps with admin and Steve, our book keeper. These people have all given their time for free to help the community and we are really lucky to have them. Our Board of Directors are also all volunteers – Eve, Ruth, Emma, Claire, Jon, Debbie, Fariha, May, Melissa and those who have recently stepped down, Rebecca and Harriet.
I started as a volunteer after the birth of my eldest daughter, in 2012. I was at home, going a bit bonkers, not really knowing anyone in the area and feeling quite anxious and stressed (and quite frankly a bit lonely!) Our Chair of Directors, Eve, who at the time ran the centre, advertised for a volunteer party booker and I jumped at the chance. My background is in Event Management and I wanted something that kept my brain ticking over and got me chatting to other grown ups! I did the role until the birth of my second daughter in 2016. I made friends, I helped the community, I had an outside interest and it looked great on my CV. After a short maternity break, I came back and did the role again. Then in 2018, I took over as General Manager – a 21 hour a week job that balances with my child care and I take home a salary. It’s the perfect role for me now that I have my girls.
It got me thinking about volunteering and how it can work for the individual. There are so many benefits to volunteering – if you are looking to return to work, it can boost your CV; it can help with re-training; if you are at home with a small child and you just want some adult company, it’s perfect for you; if you’re retired but full of energy and want a focus or if you are a student looking to boost experience, it’s also ideal. I’ve made some life long friends and now have the ultimate flexible role that allows me to fulfill my mum duties too.
Next time: Eve Daniels, who set up The Bridge in 2010 as a volunteer and now sits as the Chair of the Board will tell you a bit about her journey and how she used her experience to set up More2 Nurseries with other fellow Bridge Alumni, Kelly and Glenda.
And in the meantime, if you’d like to see how volunteering could help you, please get in touch.