IT’S EASY, IT’S FUN AND YOU GET BACK AS MUCH, AND MORE, AS YOU GIVE

Talking About My Generation reporter Christine Duffin took voluntary redundancy in 2017 after almost 30 years working in the public sector. Here she tells us of her experiences of volunteering – and boy has she had many!

“After some time out to relax, catch my breath and do a bit of travelling, I thought what now? I didn’t really want to get back on the treadmill again so quickly, neither did I want to just squander time.

I’ve always been an advocate of volunteering and have dipped in and out of it over the years – after I graduated, inbetween jobs and even when I was working. I thought that this would be a perfect time for me to get back into it again and to find something I could do that was fun, different and where I could meet people.

I’ve always enjoyed being around people, love listening to stories and hearing about other people’s lives, I like to share a few stories myself – well, I am Irish, it’s in my DNA! I’d heard about the Manchester International Festival, which is an international arts festival that runs every two years, so I thought I would apply.

The festival takes on about 500 volunteers and I found myself doing things like guiding audiences into venues, marketing, talking to people about the festival, what was on and where, I was even a runner for the band New Order, plus I got to see some amazing productions. I met so many people, made some good friends and got to hear about other volunteering experiences.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I volunteer at HOME, the Royal Exchange and other festivals such as the Manchester Literature Festival when they come around. I also volunteer with the Cyril Flint Befrienders charity, which offers companionship to people feeling isolated or have little contact with family or friends. I am on the board of the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, a community-owned asset we are bringing back to life offering activities and events for all the community, and with Age UK Manchester as a volunteer adviser.

Phew, yes, it’s busy but I manage my time. Point is, you can get a lot out of volunteering personally and give back to your community. There are numerous volunteering opportunities out there – if you just want to try something new or get involved within your community. The pluses are that you can gain new skills and experiences, build your confidence and get to meet lots of people.

If you are online, do a search under volunteering and lots will come up, check out community boards in your local shops/newspapers and just ask around. Give it a go, what have you got to lose?”

If you are interested in volunteering and need somewhere to start, go to: www.manchestercommunitycentral.org/volunteer-centre-manchester for more information.

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