Volunteer Judy Hooley from Ledbury tells us more.
How did you first become involved as a volunteer?
I had time on my hands after my husband developed dementia and went into care. Since I am ridiculously energetic I went to the Ledbury Volunteer Centre who presented me with a list with 50 things I could do as a volunteer. As a mother, grandmother and a former Primary School teacher, Home-Start appealed. I have plenty of experience with small children!
What training did you receive?
I received eight days of training over eight weeks, the most memorable of which taught us to look at our own attitudes. This was very insightful and made us appreciate the assumptions which we cheerfully lived with – and which could be wrong! The importance of confidentiality was underlined, anything said in someone’s home remains private within Home-Start.
Were you nervous when you met your first family?
Of course, but there was nothing to be nervous about. I was taken by a volunteer to meet the family which was chosen by Home-Start, which carefully matches volunteers with families. That first family had three tiny children so it was very busy, I was made to feel very welcome by the family and we formed a very good relationship. That mother said to me ‘The really nice thing about you coming is I don’t have to pretend I’m coping.’ If the washing up wasn’t done it didn’t matter to me!
Can the role of a volunteer be emotional at times?
It can be yes. In a lot of ways I’ve been quite lucky with my families, but you discover things which make you think ‘I thought my life was hard, but …’ It opens your eyes to the things that can happen in people’s lives.
What’s your advice to potential volunteers?
If you are prepared to be uncritical and genuinely enjoy contact with other adults and children, it’s a wonderful thing to give your time to. You might be nervous at first, but then if you started a new job tomorrow you might feel the same – what will they think of me? will I be all right? Can I face their problems? Once you are through the door you will discover it’s a privilege to be treated as a friend to people who really need a friend. We aren’t forced to visit, we go because we would like to visit them and they are pleased to see us. You truly get more out of volunteering for Home-Start than you put in and for me it’s an enormous source of pleasure.
There are almost one hundred volunteers at Home-Start Herefordshire of all ages and from all walks of life, but more are always needed.
Whether you need support, would like to offer your time or make a donation Take action and call us today
“I understand what it’s like to have children. When mine were growing up I could have done with a volunteer myself. Now my kids are older I have time to help another mum.”