This week I spoke to Alexx from @Alexxmarie74 on Twitter and the Angel Wings And Petticoats blog. Alexx is 19 and is currently volunteering for MIND within one of their stores.
When did you start volunteering?
I only started recently in January 2016 sadly, I do wish I had been doing it long before.
How did you get into volunteering?
This isn’t going to sound too good, but I actually started for very personal reasons; because I’m not allowed to work, but I wanted something to do.
However, I chose MIND due to both the great help they have done for me, and due to knowing how important their work is.
People need to know that there is help there for mental health sufferers as well as their carers.
What do you like about volunteering and your volunteer role/roles?
I just love speaking to the people that come into store.
You get a mix of people, elderly ladies, but the best ones are mental health recoverers. They are always happy to talk about their experiences and boast about just how much the charity has helped them.
What are some of the challenges of volunteering/your volunteer role/roles?
I really don’t have many challenges. I love doing it.
Is having to get up at 6am a challenge? If so, then definitely that!
But everyone is so nice and the job itself is rather easy to be fair.
How has volunteering helped you?
It has really built my confidence, especially in dealing with different types of people as well as feeling that I can make snap decisions about prices etc when needed.
It also makes you feel very honoured to be helping out with a charity that does such great work to help people that would otherwise be alone.
Why do you volunteer in the sector you volunteer in?
I chose the mental health sector because of my own experiences, they helped me while I was still too scared to admit I had a problem.
To be fair, I would not be anywhere near to the stage of my recovery I am, if it wasn’t for the help they gave me; so how better to show my appreciation than to now help them help others.
Describe a typical day as a volunteer.
Currently and sadly, I only do one day a week regularly, and the rest is just filling in.
So I start at 6am, so I can get up and ready, the normal shower breakfast etc.
Then I walk down to the shop at 8.30 which is about a half hour walk; stop at Costa and grab a coffee for myself and my boss, and then head to the shop for 9am.
We open up, and spend the first 10 minutes chatting.
I then go through all the stock and look at the date that it was put out, and if it’s been out for two weeks or more I take it off the shop floor and it goes to be sold on.
I then go through the stock room and pick out new stock and put it out on the shop floor- all of this is done by both myself and my boss together. It takes about an hour.
While doing this I have to be ready to serve at the till and afterwards I pretty much stay at the desk, accepting donations and serving people.
If it’s quiet I will also check through the donations and work out what could be sold and price it up and put it out back in the stock room.
Sadly I finish at 4 but would normally stay a bit later to help.
All I’ve missed out is the constant flow of coffee and biscuits that we snack on.
As I said it’s a good job!
Any advice for people who want to volunteer?
Just go for it! Volunteering is amazing, especially if you go into the right role for you, whether that be hands on or just fundraising – but you will not regret it.