Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I got my first experience in my community back in 1994 when I was 16 and I helped out at the Blue Roof (our community centre) it was a kids club at night and I was responsible for the arts and crafts table and I loved it.
From there I moved to doing some bits with Stepping Stones for Families and was involved in voluntary childcare work – ok reveal time not many folk know but I actually went to college part time as I wanted to be a nursery teacher was put off at school for being “too bright for that sort of work” only in my adult years do I realise how wrong that was and nursery teachers are amazing. Stopped my course though when I had my own children and then went to work. After a break of a while I got back into volunteering when my oldest started school and loved going on school trips or helping in school with things (parent council, Eco-committee that was lots of fun proud that me and my kids all served a bit of time on that one!, helped with fundraising and getting funding for things, got the housing association involved with the school and my clubs as well – I seen the link and made the connection between school and housing association and partnership for life).
When I went back to uni it gave me a chance to become a bit more involved in school and I used my expertise, helping out with computing classes and then eventually starting my own afterschool club up in April 2013 with the support of the head teacher. It ran at least once a week for each term – although some terms I had more time and I did 2 or 3 clubs a week (while I was a student). Totally loved it being part of the school community my little Royston Family – teachers don’t get enough credit for the extras they do to support families and yeah they guys were there for me at a time in my life I needed it most and I’ve always ensured I support the school where possible. I guess this stemmed from when I was younger and as a kid there was Archie Grant true legend R.I.P. who ran a group and used to take us swimming a lot and did the disco as well ha yes the disco has been going that long here lol. Before then we always did things at the local community centre in Blackhill and went on trips etc so seeing people invested in doing things for their community had an impact on me.
Today I still feel its important to help out first in your own community if and when you can. My wee computing club turned into a Codedojo (name really nothing more but we got more support) and from that I did occasionally help out at the Science Centre or Mitchell Library dojos but knew I wanted to keep my efforts mainly where I was and started a wee dojo in the library.
From there I got involved with Royston Youth Action who do the most amazing work in my community for kids. Did a couple of sessions over the past year for them before the anxiety kicked in. Then I really had to slow down and stop for a bit but you know what those lovely RYA folk are still there for a wee chat and have been super supportive of me and my journey even though they don’t have to but in turn I know that when we can start doing things I’ll be so ready to help them out. I had been trying to make plans with the school and RYA and Glasgow Life to try get things started again just before Covid19 however it will happen.
I am also a STEM ambassador and have used this throughout the 10 years to work with schools and run my coding clubs as well the Science Connects team are awesome and I owe a lot to Aileen who’s been a great support over the years.
I think its important that if you are in a position to be able to give back to your community you can. I’m not saying it has to be financial far from it volunteering is the best thing you can do. You get to help out others and make a difference in your community. I have worked with so many children in the area and it’s amazing granted some are now grown up lol but I’ve played a small part in their lives. I’m lucky as well in that I’ve had amazing support from the groups I have volunteered with it makes a big difference and I thank them for that.
Volunteering is something everyone should do at least once in their lives.