The art of volunteering
Richmond AID is a charity run by and for disabled people, covering everything from counselling, financial and careers advice, or leisure and physical activities. Their aim is to support disabled people to live independent lives and to have the same opportunities as non-disabled people.
Their Peer Network is made up of volunteers who assist with various activities - which range from choir practice to book club and art class. Here, four volunteers from the art class explain why they decided to volunteer and what they get out of it.
I came to Richmond AID to use the advice service – I have disabilities, had lost my partner of 25 years and I was feeling lonely and shy. I met Simon, who is in the Peer Network, and he told me how lovely it was to volunteer there. It sounded just like something I needed to join.
I wanted to volunteer because I like caring and feeling useful. It is very satisfying to help others, which in turn makes me feel better in myself. I have really enjoyed using my skills helping people to access art, and it has been great meeting people with such a diversity of disabilities and needs. I now have friends that care, and I am much happier and confident. I feel that I have got my life back.
I was having difficulties with my local job centre – our communications had broken down and I was stressed. I came across Richmond AID and asked if they could help. Jamie was brilliant. He helped fix my relationship with the job centre, which was a huge relief, but I was still feeling depressed and not doing anything. I needed to get out and meet people again, so I joined the Peer Network.
Volunteering has made me a better person. I no longer sit at home all day feeling lonely and desperate, because I have met some great people. I also feel that I have grown up a lot, because I have some structure in my life. I now wake up in the morning and feel happy and safe because I know that Richmond AID is there for me.
I needed help finding a job, so I came to Richmond AID. Jamie mentioned I might be interested in the Peer Network. I wanted to join - not only to make new friends but also to make use of any opportunities available to me.
Before I had felt isolated, but now it's like I have got a new family. It has also encouraged me to do other things outside of the group. For example, I’ve performed for a drama group and had a go at fencing! Richmond AID has been a really positive experience, allowing me to meet and help other people and be part of a team. I would definitely recommend volunteering to others!
I was asked to come to Richmond AID to meet the Peer Network. I’d wanted to volunteer anyway, but knowing that they give support to people with disabilities sounded like a perfect fit;I have Cerebal Palsy and am a passionate advocate for disabled people’s rights. I have made a lot of friends here, and I have enjoyed all the activities, such as drama, choir practice and art classes. I was also involved in promoting ‘Parliament week’ and got to go to the Houses of Parliament to speak on behalf of disabled people.I was not a confident public speaker but now I can stand up in front of hundreds of people! Richmond AID is a great place to volunteer.