Why I volunteer
The original stimulus to volunteer was a lengthy period of unemployment back in 2012 / 13 which meant I had a lot of time on my hands and the strong need to do something with it. I started working with the Thursday conservation team and enjoyed the experience so much that when I found another job I very much wanted to continue. I now volunteer with the Sunday conservation team.
The request from Rowan for a blog on this subject forced me to think what it is that made / makes me keep volunteering so, in brief, here goes
I increasingly work from home which means I sit in what was “planned” as the smallest bedroom for most of most days alternating my view between my computer screen and my phone. Not the most stimulating of environments visually and while I go out to archery, gardening and other activities in the evening I also need to do more for my own health and wellbeing. It is much more psychological than physiological.
I have learnt many more new skills and facts that I ever thought I would when I first started volunteering back in February 2013. I can now light a fire and get it properly going with the minimum of fuss and effort for example. I can dig, cut, saw, rake, bang in fence posts and dig out ponds with a degree of expertise and ease. I could even make a reasonable attempt at coppicing and woodland management. These are all skills I would not have refined or even learned had I not stuck my hand up to volunteer.
Meeting new people from a varied and interesting range of backgrounds has been an added bonus. Often they have come from industries I would not normally encounter working as an accountant in an HR consultancy. The Sunday team includes people who are computer software experts, fire prevention specialists, engineers, wine buyers and students doing DoE for example. Not forgetting of course the people that work at Ashridge whose enthusiasm for what they do is infectious and their willingness to share their knowledge is so much part of what makes Sunday so enjoyable.
There has been another unexpected benefit when visiting other NT properties. Talking to their volunteers has on occasion yielded additional insights into their property that the normal visitor wouldn’t get. Oh and of course you get a discount on that cuppa !!!
Sunday Conservation team
27th September 2016