i Volunteer

In a recent place survey, the unitary authority area of West Berkshire has been recognised as the highest volunteering unitary authority in the UK. By working in partnership with West Berkshire Council and the Local Strategic Partnership, Volunteer Centre West Berkshire wishes to build on its successful track record by further promoting volunteering and community participation across the district.

Be inspired by these case studies ...

Amanda …

a student, began volunteering at the Patient Information Point in West Berkshire Community
Hospital as she wanted to gain experience working in the health care sector to support her degree in
Health Sciences. Never having volunteered before, Amanda is enjoying meeting other people and
finds that volunteering is complimenting her degree perfectly, enabling her to apply her studies to a
“real life” situation. She is delighted to have joined such a dedicated team of volunteers and
experience the rewards of empowering individuals by giving them access to the health information
they need, but might not have otherwise received.

Fiona …

found herself with time on her hands and wanted to use it productively. She was impressed with the
variety of volunteer opportunities available and with the Volunteer Centre’s help, identified the ones
that most interested her. She now volunteers regularly for Loose Ends, a drop in centre for the
homeless and finds it to be an inspiring project to be involved with. She relishes making new friends
and meeting so many interesting people. Fiona also looks forward to joining West Berkshire Citizen
Advocacy Service as a volunteer befriender, as well as assisting the Living Rainforest with some
administration. Fiona says that volunteering has enabled her to look at things in a different way.

Brian …

was shocked to be made redundant earlier in the year and suddenly found he had time to fill. Having
previously volunteered as a minibus driver many years ago, he decided that volunteering would be
the perfect way to keep busy. Having received information from the i volunteer team at the Volunteer
Centre, he is now driving minibuses, for groups such as Riding for the Disabled and Newbury
Crossroads. Brian finds it highly rewarding to be able to use his spare time and local knowledge so
usefully by assisting others to get about.

Dawn …

from Thatcham, works full time, but felt she wanted to use her spare time more meaningfully by
giving something back to the community whilst meeting new people at the same time. Dawn
discovered the Volunteer Centre and quickly found the volunteer opportunity that suited
her interests and time. Once she has completed training with Homestart West Berkshire,
she is looking forward to the satisfaction she will gain from helping families with young children. She
feels that she may pick up new listening skills that will be relevant to her job in Customer Services.

Fernanda …

moved to the area from Brazil so that she could be with her husband as he took up a new job.
Having previously volunteered in Brazil, she recognised that it would provide her with the perfect
opportunity to meet new people, practise her English and keep busy. Having visited the Volunteer
Centre, she commenced volunteering for the British Heart Foundation Shop. She finds helping the
shop by sorting through the donated items to be rewarding and also enjoys meeting new people. In
fact, she enjoyed it so much that she has now gone on to volunteer with Age Concern.

Andrew …

has worked in publishing, and as a copywriter and technical writer in the computer industry. Now he’s
decided to spend less time in front of his computer, and more time with people learning to use them.
So he volunteers for Age Concern’s “Silver Surfers” group, and finds it extremely refreshing to help
the members, many of whom have never used a computer before. He also helps support literacy
classes at Newbury College and is a proof reader for Kingsclere based charity, Living Paintings,
which publishes for the blind. He says “I’m proud to help the work of these organisations, but I never
knew some of them existed until I contacted the Volunteer Centre.”

John …

previously employed as a Project Manager, was finding the search for a new role de-motivating as
suddenly he had time on his hands, where once he had been very busy. He visited the Volunteer
Centre and was impressed with the range of interesting volunteer opportunities that were available.
He is now driving for Thatcham Volunteer Bureau, helping individuals unable to use public transport.
John finds volunteering in this way to be a wonderful, uplifting experience, enabling him to get out of
the house to spend time with and offer reassurance to the many lovely people he takes to and from
vital appointments.

Emma …

had to give up work when her young son was diagnosed with Autism & ADHD, now he’s more
settled, she found herself with more time to consider her own needs. From previous experience,
Emma knew that by giving up a little time she could make a big difference to someone else. She
contacted the Volunteer Centre, and as a result, Emma is now volunteering with Homestart, this will
give her the ideal opportunity to share her experiences and knowledge with other parents. She is
also now helping the Volunteer Centre with some administration. Emma, who enjoys making others
smile, is finding volunteering the perfect way to get out of the house and meet other people, whilst
doing something worthwhile at the same time.


sees volunteering as being the ideal way to contribute to the community she lives in. Having heard
of their need from the Volunteer Centre, Sue now volunteers as the Chair of the Newbury & District
branch of Crossroads Care, a charity that supports carers and the people they care for. She enjoys
having the opportunity to support them by using her experience as a carer, as well as her knowledge
of local government. Sue also volunteers as co-chair and helps run the WIRED rock cafe for young
rock musicians in Hungerford, that helps young people learn and enjoy rock music, a passion she
also shares.


recently completed his MA in English, he was keen to find ways to keep himself occupied whilst he
looks for full time employment. He searched for local volunteer opportunities on the do-it website,
and became interested in volunteering for Sandham Memorial Chapel, run by the National Trust and
based in Burghclere. He now regularly volunteers there by assisting with the gardening, but also at
times he volunteers inside the chapel as a guide. Nick says that he enjoys the sense of involvement
that joining their team of volunteers has given him and relishes meeting the many visitors to the

Rachel …

an Information Analyst, has been enjoying the rewards of sharing her skills and contributing to the
local community as a volunteer since she was 18 years old. Currently she is secretary of the local
Twin Town Association and involved with several groups, including a school PTA, a scouts group and
a local Church’s flower committee.

Rachel works for an employer that enables staff to take time out of the office for voluntary activity.
Since 2006 she has encouraged her colleagues to get involved with one day team volunteer
challenges, co-ordinated by the Volunteer Centre. To date, her team has completed projects to
benefit two local primary schools and two local conservation sites. Rachel says these days are a
fantastic way for teams to take a day out of a busy office, develop team building skills and work
together on something completely different. Teams get a real sense of achievement when they see
the results at the end of the day, whilst having great fun along the way!

Amy …

a local Mum, herself with time to spare and felt that she would like to use some of it positively to help
others. Never having volunteered before, she visited the Volunteer Centre for advice on the types of
volunteer opportunities that would suit her. As a result of that, Amy has now commenced
volunteering for the Stroke Club, and helps out with their weekly meetings. She immediately felt
welcome and enjoys being involved with such a friendly group, knowing that whatever she does can
make a difference, even if it’s something as simple as making a cup of tea.

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