What galvanises someone to give their time freely, for no reward other than to help make life better for someone else?  One of our Trustees, Gill Perkins shares her motivations and experience...

Gill Perkins - volunteer and trustee

I retired early 10 years ago and I had more spare time than ever before... I have been so lucky in my life and I now had time to give a bit back...

I didn't want any more meetings or cost cutting exercises but I wanted to meet new people and just be friendly and supportive and me! By chance, someone mentioned that assistance was needed with education activities at Probation Services. I wasn't a teacher and never had been, neither did I desire that but I felt I could do something like this so  I went along and soon started working with my great friend Kirsty, who was a tutor there. 

Kirsty and I spent several years there but then the 'cuts' came and our funding was lost! However, our efforts had been appreciated and Nottingham Women's Centre wanted the ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes to continue and Headway Nottingham wanted some numeracy and literacy classes, so that's how I came to Headway just over 5 years ago.

I just loved it here, right from the start. Everyone was so friendly and so grateful for our contribution.  For me I just enjoyed being in such a friendly environment and feeling I had made a contribution that was appreciated.  It wasn't hard, I was just being myself. Plus, I like to bake a bit, but I'm no 'Star Baker' and our classes always appreciate an occasional cake with their drink!  Because I'm a volunteer I come to the Centre feeling fresh and happy to be there, I'm usually there 2 half days a week, this fits in well with my other commitments.  Our classes are good-natured and our 'pupils' are great.  Of course everyone is an individual, so we all bring something different to these sessions, that's what I love, I learn so much about others and can offer something of myself. It really suits me, I would recommend it to anyone! 

Pretty soon I was asked if I would like to become a Trustee of Headway Nottingham. This was a surprise, I had promised myself 'no more meetings' and certainly no minute taking. However, because I had seen so clearly the value of what our charity provided. I didn't hesitate. I not only joined the Board but volunteered to take the Minutes when the previous person left, which just goes to show how valuable I feel our charity is! 

I was aware that my experiences as a manager in industry may not be such a perfect fit as those with more relevant experiences or responsibilities in professional roles such as finance or personnel but, as a volunteer at the Centre, I had a closer link to our clients who attended there and of course our amazing, hardworking staff, so I could represent some of those aspects. I was so pleased to feel I could help support this fantastic service more directly. 

Being both a volunteer and a Trustee binds me very closely to our organisation. I have learnt so much and have such a great time doing this. I've also used a lot of eggs and flour in the process!! I would recommend volunteering to anyone, you may have less time than me but we appreciate any help, there's always a friendly face here and you won't regret it!