Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose to volunteer with Diabetes UK?
After I had fallen out of work I wanted to try something completely different and broaden the horizon in terms of what kind of work to look for. I had never done voluntary work before and as I am already a diabetic I had a look online to see what kind of work was available, or how I could be put to use and learn something at the same time.
What was your volunteer role with us, and what do you do on a daily basis?
My first role within Diabetes UK was admin assistant for the legal department. This was my first experience in an office environment and it felt daunting at first, especially as my manager was a lot taller than me and very professional. But it turned out she was the best manager I had ever had out of my 26 years of working. My manager Tandy Nash taught me how to use the database CIS, filing and how to use an online archiving database. This was my first step to a wider world.
My second role was Memoriam Volunteer. This is where I had more interaction with the public in terms of correspondence. I was taught by Ruth Brennan how to put letters together, and the role showed me how Diabetes UK takes a genuine interest in the lives of those that manage their diabetes. Ruth showed me how to make a difference in people’s lives by making sure they had the information they needed to cope with the condition. I also learned about being sympathetic as well, which was obviously appreciated by the responses the department received.
My third and current role is Facilities Assistant. This is where I was really put to work helping to look after all the 250 staff at the office in London. Neil Crook, my manager, has shown me all the workings within this department and I am learning how to manage the mail room, who works where, and each person’s function within the charity. I help with incoming and outgoing mail, deliveries, and I talk with engineers on the phone for copiers and printers that need fixing. Having the occasional laugh has made this work interesting.
Do you have a special interest area or skill set that you were able to grow while volunteering with us?
My special interest has always been with the magazine Balance as I grew up with this over the years of having diabetes. I have had the honour of putting forth ideas for the magazine and was invited to participate in a focus group for ideas on the presentation and layout of the magazine which was a good experience.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering with Diabetes UK?
The best part of volunteering at Diabetes UK is the interaction with all staff as they have been helpful in my learning curves, and I have made many good friends as well.
What advice would you give to somebody who may be interested in volunteering with Diabetes UK?
My advice to anyone thinking of volunteering for Diabetes UK is: "Don’t think, just do!"
If you could describe your experience of volunteering with us in one word, what would it be?