Draft - My Story
To find out more about volunteering and what it means to them we have talked to some of those currently volunteering in Haverhill.
I came to volunteering from a very unhappy place. I was in an abusive relationship and had also been struggling for years with heroin addiction. I was hugely isolated and physically and emotionally drained. I was exhausted and I knew with every fibre of my being there was nothing on earth that could help me.
Of course, there was something that could help me and the first inkling I had of that was when Turning Point (the drugs charity) came to my door with a food parcel. I tried my very best to turn them away believing free food was just too good to be true but they won and I eventually accepted the parcel. As my husband and I ate the food we were given I could feel it giving me strength and that is when I decided to pray, start eating, stop the nonsense and step up to the rest of my life.
I felt so passionately about that first food parcel that my starting point into volunteering was going to Reach and helping them prepare parcels for others. I eventually moved onto other jobs in the organisation and in the process made mistakes, did things wrong, messed up like we all do. The team at Reach were so welcoming and accepting that I volunteered with them for three years. I am so grateful for this period in my life as it gave me structure and balance and I hung onto it by my fingernails. I was in survival mode but I realised I was with good people and I was safe when I was with them.
I then moved on to volunteer at East Town Park. This was great because I was in the outdoors and I meet a lovely bunch of people. What was just as great though is the process that the Volunteer Centre (under Elaine Hewes) to place me in this volunteering opportunity. They took time to know me and my story and consulted with me about my likes, dislikes and needs to make sure the placement was a good fit. Elaine tells me now when she first met me I was ridden with anxiety. I don’t remember that at all – I look back and am struck by the kindness and patience of Elaine Hewes and her team.
What do I think I have gained from volunteering? So much. A huge amount. During the years of my bad relationship and addiction I felt I had sorry tattooed to my forehead. Volunteering has given me a sense of feeling useful and cared for, the feeling that I had something important and worthwhile to do. It gave me a reintroduction into the world I had become isolated from. I have now come full circle and am in the position where I am recruiting volunteers. I never could have guessed that about myself.
In summary, volunteering has been my sanctuary and salvation.