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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The value of volunteering

After 30-odd years of working full-time, I have finally escaped and I am now a volunteer.

After a period of ill-health I finally left a well-paid but badly-suited line of work. I was damn good in my job but my heart was never in it. Never.

There were highlights and good points, of course. I have made some wonderful friends from my time working closely with them in an office environment. And I am proud to have supported and worked closely with some of the UK's most high-profile academic and medical Professors. 

But now, I no longer have to suffer sitting out the 9-5 under migraine-inducing flourescent lighting, trying to rise above petty office management politics, being line-managed by much younger, less experienced staff to within an inch of my life as I tried to support those I worked for. I could go on but there's no point. I'm out of it now. If you've ever worked in an office then you'll know what I mean.

As a volunteer, I can choose what I do. And I've followed my heart this time. I'm doing something which pleases me greatly and I'm learning stuff too - new stuff, fun stuff. There's no 9-5, no micro-management, no sleepless, stressful Sunday nights before another week of counting the hours until Friday comes.

My time is my own to do as much or as little as I wish. And in the time I have to myself, I can cycle, read. Best of all, I can write.

Of course, there's no money as a volunteer. But that's a very, very small price to pay to have the freedom to try, to experience, to learn, to discover, in a way that has never been possible in my paid working life. Without cash coming in I've had to adjust. No more long weekends away, but they're not needed any more as there's no work stress to escape from. I've had to cut my cloth to suit and it's suiting me fine. How much stuff does one person need, anyway? The charity shop has become my friend.

And maybe, just maybe, with my new skills and fresh outlook on the world of work, I could end up in a nice part-time role somewhere too.

Learning new skills as a volunteer, and meeting new people has given me much more confidence than I could have known. I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm happy.

I am a volunteer.

You could be too - check out the national volunteering opportunities website.
I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

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