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"Well, it's awesome!"

It’s a Wednesday morning down at Brownhills Community Centre and everyone is welcome!


Held in the main hall, situated near to the entrance on Pelsall Road, The Friendship Group is in full swing offering a free cup of tea or coffee and a delicious piece of toast to all that walk in! And as I walked in, I was met by the fabulous Jane who agreed to tell me all about what volunteering means to her and how doing so for the last four years has impacted her life.



Having been unemployed for a number of years, when Jane’s husband also became unemployed, she was told by many that volunteering would increase her chances of returning to paid work. When restrictions lifted after the pandemic, Jane was asked if she would like to run the friendship group at the centre. Jane told me that at that time, she had no confidence and was shaking all over at the thought of volunteering; telling herself she couldn’t do it! “Nobody could have been more scared than me when I first came here. I was a home bird and really lacked confidence – I am totally different now than the person I was when I started volunteering. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere”.


The person sitting across the table from me is most definitely not the shy, confidence lacking individual she may have been before volunteering started. Jane says the best thing about volunteering for her is “being part of something positive and meeting people. Lacking confidence at the time – it’s been as good for me to be honest as everyone that comes here each week.” She added how volunteering is such “a positive experience for me” and that is clear to see!


So what do volunteers get back from the time they give up? Jane’s answer straight away was “a lot!” She continued, “I look forward to it and it’s a big part of my life. I was a bit scared at first, not having a lot of confidence, I thought “Oh my God” I can’t do that! I have changed a lot since doing this; so – it’s been a win - win situation all round! I think all learning is good; whatever you can learn is good and it gives you a different perspective on life. And the confidence is a massive bonus as well”.


Jane adds she “always felt there was something lacking in life, like a hole so this has kind of filled the hole in my life I guess. I thought I was doing it for everyone else but the odd thing is, when you do it, the benefits you get from it for yourself, well it’s awesome!”


So, what would Jane say to others who were thinking of volunteering but are unsure? “Give it a go! Definitely, give it a go! I surprised myself that I could do it so other people can do it too”. With a  smile, Jane adds, “When people say to you, which they do, “I love coming on Wednesdays, its lovely” – that makes it all worthwhile because you know others are getting something out of it and it’s so important.”

 

The coffee morning, part of the Places of Welcome Network, is helping to break down barriers associated with isolation and loneliness and is a safe space for people to come and have a chat and make new friends.  There’s always a friendly face to welcome you at the door, an ear to listen and usually a slice of cake to go with your cuppa! Each Wednesday from 11.30am at Brownhills Community Centre – See you there!

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