We’ve refined the way this event works since the first one, but the aim is still the same – to present our volunteers with training to develop skills they can apply inside and outside of their volunteering role; to create an opportunity for all of our volunteers to meet each other, sharing experience and expertise outside of their usual programme areas; and to update everyone on changes, exciting developments and news within the wider organisation.
Body & Soul’s volunteer team is essential to the running of the organisation – from working on the babies team to making support calls to adults and teenagers all over the country, to acupuncture, massage and reiki to the board of trustees and our hugely dedicated and unfailingly enthusiastic interns - in 2011 the Body & Soul volunteer team gave a total of 17,000 volunteering hours – the equivalent to 10 full time staff members… (when we only have 10 full time staff members any way, you can see the difference).
This year, what made the day different was how involved the volunteers were in the way the day was structured – we kicked off with three volunteers speaking about their involvement in Body & Soul, including two of our longest-serving volunteers and a member of the trustee board and finished it off with 6 volunteers describing how they had each responded to Body & Soul’s challenge to raise £10,000 between the entire volunteer team last year… events, jailbreaks, company giving and physical challenges – everything had been done to smash the target and hopefully inspire volunteers into action in 2012.
Read on for a personal account from volunteer blogger Geri who attended the day – her first ever as a B&S volunteer.
“It’s the annual Volunteer Day at Body & Soul – around 100 bodies are crammed into the beautiful, bright, top floor room, listening to journalist and B&S trustee, John Mulholland doing the introductions.
For John, days like today remind him of the good in people – it provides a perfect counterbalance to much of cynicism and negativity we experience daily through the press.
‘What it reminds me of is what’s possible when people use their time, energy and intellect to do something good – rather than to moan or complain. The effects are incredible.’
Next up Marian – a woman who may be past working age but whose face shines with light, vitality and love, describes what she does at Body & Soul, and why. On Thursday nights, Marian walks among the teens offering head massages and Reiki to all. She’s a reassuring presence – the type that makes you feel safe, just by virtue of being around.
‘I’ve been volunteering for Body & Soul for 13 and a half years’, she explains. ‘I fell into when I was studying Indian head massage with some friends – they had heard of the charity and they lit a spark: “Why don’t you do something useful?” they said to me.’
Now, she explains, she tries to offer ‘comfort, pain relief, peace and love’, in 15 minute slots, using just her ‘mind, heart and hands.’ Marian finishes by saying she’s very fond of Body & Soul and hopes, for some time yet, to be a part of this ‘exceptional and beautiful group of people.’
Finally, Tina, a member-volunteer, who knows first-hand what a difference Body & Soul’s support can make - ‘Honestly, it’s what has kept me healthy – having people to talk with, to share experiences with. The philosophy of looking at the whole person, rather than their status is what makes B&S unique,’ she says.
Tina now offers healing massage to young members. ‘I try to use my hands to zap them with love – to try to ease the weight those 14-year-olds carry round with them. My own son is four now and I look forward to bringing him here for some years to come.’
So far so inspirational: a fitting start to a really emotional and educational day.
Next, we get to work on ideas, presentations and projects that look at how we work at Body & Soul – read next week’s blog to find out all about it…
Thanks to our volunteer blog writer Geri for additional material for this post.