As part of Volunteer Week celebrations, Third Sector D&G asked Catriona Macdonald to share her thoughts on volunteering with us at D&G Befriending Project.
1 Name: Catriona Macdonald
2 Organisation volunteering with and role:
I volunteer with Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project as a supporter of a young person and I have also been the Volunteer Representative on the Management Committee for over two years.
3 Length of time you have volunteered in this role?
I started volunteering with the Project in October 2014
4 What made you consider being a volunteer?
When I retired, I knew that I wanted to volunteer in some way, particularly supporting people. I was very lucky as I had the time, energy and good health to do this. I had made enquiries with two local charities who supported adults but was then told about the Befriending Project by a friend, who also said the training was very good. It involved young people and that was what made my decision to volunteer easy.
5 What motivates you to continue to volunteer?
I continue to volunteer with the Befriending Project primarily because I enjoy the company of young people. I am sure they keep you young! I have supported four very different young people and my outings with them down the years have all been very different and some have been very memorable in positive ways. There is nothing better than seeing young people smiling, relaxed and enjoying each other’s company – especially outdoors away from televisions, phones and computers! I had a great upbringing so it’s nice to support young people who are not as lucky as I was. It’s not a lot of time (2-3 hours) out of my week.
6 What impact has volunteering had on your life?
As a Befriending volunteer I’ve tried things I would not necessarily have ever tried at my age/stage in life – like coming down the zip wire at Laggan Outdoor Centre a few years back on a group outing – epic! It gets you off the sofa and out and about in the community and you become more tuned in to all the many activities that are on offer in our part of the region. I have also become an expert on the quality of milkshakes in cafes in and around Dumfries! I won’t say who is winning so far!
7 What skills have you brought to your role and what skills have you learned?
I was a secondary school teacher for nearly 35 years, both in my subject and in pupil support, so dealing with young people day to day was my job. The lives of young people have changed so much in that period of time and in other small ways stayed the same. I hope that with the skills I used as a teacher, as well as being brought up to date with the training that the Project provides e.g. LGBT issues or keeping young people safe online, I can support the young people I meet.
8 What else should a volunteer bring to the role?
Every volunteer situation is different but with the Befriending Project I think it is important to have a sense of humour; a sense of fun; a sense of adventure. Compassion, patience and kindness, as well as good listening skills, are also beneficial.
9 What makes an organization a great place to volunteer?
An organisation that gives you a sense of belonging and being appreciated, that you are part of a team and is a positive experience. Good training initially and then being kept up to date with training also makes for a good organisation to volunteer with. It is also important that you feel supported, knowing exactly what your role is and what’s expected of you – a well organised set-up. The Project fulfils all this for me and I appreciate the little things that they do to support their volunteers such as ‘thank you’ meals and a letter of thanks or a birthday card!
10 What would you say to someone who is sitting on the fence about becoming a volunteer?
If you have a little time in your week and are a people person it can make a huge difference to someone’s life to take time to support them in many situations. You will learn something about yourself (all positive!) and if you are lucky in life, giving back is the least you can do.
If you would like more information on us please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01387 247812.
To share your volunteer profiles, message Third Sector D&G or email email@example.com