Guest blog – take the first step to volunteering

We’re delighted to bring you a guest blog from easyfundraising member Carolyn Sainsbury on her experiences as a new volunteer for the Samaritans.

Stepping into volunteering

“Just like everyone else around Christmas and New Year, I found myself looking at the year behind me and the year ahead and what I have achieved.  Normally it’s a time when I find myself wishing that I could say something positive, that I had done something to change my life.  This January, I find myself feeling very positive and slightly proud of myself (an unusual state of affairs in many ways) because 2011 was a big year for me in terms of personal achievements.

“For a long time I had wanted to volunteer for a charity, and in particular Samaritans, but a parade of self doubts, and a worry that I wasn’t emotionally strong enough, meant that I always put it to the back of my mind.  That is until my sister found some information about an open evening, and said she was interested.  Before I knew it, not only had I attended the open evening, but I had gone through selection, at each stage believing that at some point they would say thanks, but no thanks.    And yet somehow, despite my doubts, I was offered a place on the training course.

I can do this

“I remember getting the letter about my training dates, and realising just how intensive it was going to be.  12 sessions, one per week, each one lasting around 3 hours… it was a lot to take in and I was feeling apprehensive about it.   I can’t lie, the training was draining, and intense, and scary and nothing like how I imagined it would be.  I had no idea of just how much I was letting myself in for.  And yet when I listened in to my first calls, and then actually took my first call.  I realised that the training had prepared me for this, and that, just maybe, I could do it.

“I first went on rota in April and so as of January 2012, I have been a Samaritan for ten months now.  I cannot express how much I have enjoyed this time, and the feeling that I am actually not only doing something to help other people, but something for me too. Because over the year and the training and my experiences on the phone, I have realised something important about myself as well, and that is that despite all my fears and doubts, I actually can do this.

“My new year’s resolutions last year were fairly boring, and I seem to remember I forgot them pretty much straight away.  But this year I want to be just a little bit more positive, and say that this is the year I want to believe in myself.  Because, without wanting to sound too sappy, other people put their trust in me, so maybe it’s about time I did the same.

Take the first step

“So whether you’ve never thought about volunteering for a charity or maybe you’ve thought about it but never done it, my advice would be to take the first step.  There are hundreds of charities and organisations out there crying out for help and support from people. And whether you believe it or not, they believe you can make a difference, and there’s surely nothing more positive in the cold month of January that feeling that you are doing something for someone else.”

Carolyn Sainsbury is a volunteer for Samaritans Walsall & District.  To help them raise funds via easyfundraising click here