Volunteers’ Week: Meet our volunteer Linda

Linda, 61, works part-time from home as a bookkeeper for a building company and lives in Walderslade. After hearing about us from one of our trustees, and seeing some HOLG flyers promoting our work, she thought it could be the perfect place to put her admin skills to good use.  

Here’s her volunteering story:

1.When did you start volunteering with HOLG and why?

I first joined HOLG in April 2022. At the time, I’d had two part time jobs but had lost one, and wanted another role to motivate me.

Also, when my son was two, his father took his own life, so I’d been through a similar situation to many of the families HOLG helps. Back then, over 25 years ago, there was no support for my son, only me, so I knew how important HOLG’s work is.

I wasn’t sure if working with the children was right for me because of what I’d been through; I thought it could be too emotional, although it might be something I want to do going forward. So, to start with, I decided to offer my admin services.

2.What does your role involve?

My main role is to input the information from the enquiry forms: the forms that families and individuals send in to refer a child for support, or a weekend bereavement programme. I also type up the certificates that are given to the children at the end of the weekends.

I help out with putting together the craft materials used at the weekends too, such as the memory jars, and the positive messages written on card that the children string together and take home with them. I also make the pegs for the children; each child who attends a weekend has a personalised clothes peg decorated with their name and pretty colours which they use for an activity called a wool web.

I sometimes answer the phone and take care of some filing; I really don’t mind what I do. HOLG always try to vary my tasks and make them more interesting; they’re always asking if there are other things I’d like to try.

3. How did HOLG prepare you for the role?

I had some GDPR and safeguarding training; that was a few hours on Zoom. It’s really important as because I’m inputting data from referral forms, I have access to a lot of personal information so it’s vital I know the rules and regulations. I’ve also helped out at an event, the children’s Christmas party, so I was DBS checked too.

When you apply to work for HOLG, part of the form you fill out asks about anyone in your life who has died, what age they were, and your relationship to them. It could be anyone, even a pet; it’s so they’re aware of any experiences that might be difficult for you. I’ve actually found that working with HOLG has helped me with the experience I went through with my son, as I realise so many other people have been through a similar thing; I’m not affected by it in the way I thought I would be.

4. What’s your favourite thing about your role?

I love that it is such an inclusive environment to work in. I have multiple sclerosis, brittle bones and costochondritis which means I have a lot of pain in my bones and ribs, lifting is painful and I have weakness in my left hand. But none of this was an issue for HOLG; they understand my disabilities and needs and make sure I never do any lifting. They always find a way to support me or ask if I’m struggling. It’s such a nurturing place.

I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding employers who would take me on in the past which has really knocked my confidence but it’s just not an issue for HOLG; they’re disability confident and are interested in what I can do, not what I can’t. Being disabled, I was also quite afraid to go back out into society after Covid, but working with them has helped my self-esteem hugely.

5. How much time do you give to HOLG?

I do three hours a week with HOLG and I really look forward to going to work in the office because it’s such a friendly, happy environment but also rewarding. I always feel I’ve done a good job and they always thank me for whatever I’ve done. It’s so motivating to know you’ve made a difference and are appreciated.

6. What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

It’s a fabulous, supportive place, and somewhere you get the chance to really make a difference to families in need. It’s just so rewarding; it motivates me to get up and go out and do something. I’d say to anyone give it a try, they’re always looking for different skills, and everyone’s got something to offer

This has really made a huge difference to me and it’s enjoyable. I’ve got so much out of it; I know I’m offering something and getting something back.

Find out about more about volunteering with us here.