12 December 2014

Have you ever thought about volunteering with a local charity? By giving a little bit of your time, you are giving so much back to so many people. Also, volunteering often means new friends and lots of social events!

Read what Nicholas Shortall, YMCA LSW volunteer has to say about why he started volunteering for us two years ago:

I’ve been a volunteer at YMCA Wimbledon for the last two and a half years.  I work at Reception on Mondays and Wednesdays and, right from the start, it’s been an important and enjoyable part of my life.

I had mixed motives for volunteering.  During a spell of unemployment I needed work experience to keep my CV interesting.  I’ve always worked with people, in customer service roles, and I’d had previous experience as a Receptionist.  My advisor at JobCentre Plus knew that the YMCA offered many different volunteer roles and had already placed a number of people in such roles through the YMCA’s volunteer coordinators, Andy Mole and his then-colleague, Rodney Akko.

At my first meeting with Andy and Rodney I was really impressed with their friendliness, openness, and readiness to fully incorporate volunteers into the life of the YMCA through work placements, training, and the great social life the YMCA offers.

Learnt a great deal

I knew very little about the YMCA before I started.  Since starting, I’ve been amazed at the range of activities that take place here.  Beyond the housing support for homeless residents, there’s the gym and the dozens of health and fitness classes that take place every day of the week, the activities for children like the Pod, after school clubs, and holiday camps.

The great thing about a front of house role like reception is that I get to see all of these different elements that make up the YMCA and meet people from every department.  I’ve met so many great people it’s been one of the undoubted benefits of working here.

Another great benefit for volunteers is free health and fitness membership, although I have to admit I’m still waiting for the right moment to actually set foot in the gym!

With a free lunch and travel expenses regularly reimbursed by Andy, a day working at Wimbledon hardly feels like work at all, more like a good day out, helping people along and helping my friends.

Making a difference

I also had more personal motives for putting myself forward.  The London Olympics raised the profile of volunteering in Britain immensely and the theme of making a difference, of contributing an extra level of service to an event or organization was much in the air.

I really wanted to volunteer in a way that not only helped me but was also socially useful.

Homelessness is such a big issue, affecting people of all ages and circumstances, and the YMCA is so long-established and well known as a homeless charity that I felt sure this was a place I could do something meaningful and, in so doing, I’ve been guided by a simple truth: helping oneself and helping other people are not mutually exclusive.  They are at their best and most valuable when combined, as they are in volunteering.

The ability to combine these two is the opportunity to work at my best and for that I’m glad I’m a volunteer at the YMCA.

Want to know more?

If you would like more information about volunteering with YMCA LSW, please email our Volunteer Co-ordinator Andy Mole.