WHAT VOLUNTEERING BRINGS TO YOUR LIFE
Mine and other people's experiences….
Hello there, lovely readers!
How are you all? Well I hope, despite this quite Autumnal weather we’re having currently. And I mention “Autumnal” weather because that’s what I experienced in my most recent volunteering adventure (adventure being the operative word;)
If you follow me on any of my social media platforms - the 45 Not Out Facebook Group, my own personal Facebook account or Instagram - you’ll know that I’ve just spent a very muddy & rainy few days volunteering at Blue Dot Music Festival in Cheshire. Yes, the conditions were horrendous - think the very worst photos of Glastonbury you’ve seen - but it delivered such joy to my life in very many ways.
I met up with other volunteers - people from all walks of life with all sorts of life stories - whose path would never have crossed mine in my day to day life. Spending 8 hours on a volunteer shift, directing visitors to the festival to their campsite, helping to pitch (and move) family tents, listening to the odd moaning Minnie (yes, they still turn up at music festivals) is all part of the life of a volunteer. And it’s incredibly bonding with your team mates and other volunteers. Last year was my first year volunteering, and from that I made a very good friend in my very first shift there (admitting camper vans, don’t you know!) and we’re still in contact now. So much so that we asked to (and managed) to work shifts together this year. And we meet up occasionally in each other’s hometown. That and the fact that I got to see fab people like Grace Jones strutting her stuff on stage at the ripe old age of 75 for free (well, a couple of days hard graft). Who knew….?
BUT THERE ARE OTHER TYPES OF VOLUNTEERING…
It’s fair to say my stint of volunteering was purely a selfish (if not hedonistic) reason for volunteering. There are volunteering opportunities that are far more selfless and altruistic. One of which is undertaken by 45 Not Out member, Debbie Haynes. Having sold a very successful business she started with her brother some years ago, Debbie now devotes her time volunteering for the charity Wildlife SOS. I’ll let Debbie tell you all about it and their new volunteering opportunity in her own words.
“I began my journey with Wildlife SOS as a volunteer back in 2018. Now that I’m the UK Manager the program is now close to my heart as it not only benefits their many rescued elephants and Sloth bears but also because the program provides participants with a rare and wonderful immersive opportunity to escape this crazy world of ours for a while.
The program is ideal for anyone looking for new experiences, a bit of a challenge, to help wildlife, to meet new people and to experience beautiful India and its amazing wildlife and culture. The programme is ideal for lone travellers and groups alike as the volunteer work necessitates and encourages teamwork, with our volunteer houses providing great social spaces in which to get to know each other!
Volunteering at the Wildlife SOS Rescue Facilities will provide you with a truly rewarding experience, allowing you to gain a real insight into our work with bears and elephants, all rescued from lives of abuse.
When you sign up to volunteer with Wildlife SOS, you are not paying to undertake voluntary work, you are paying for us to provide an educational, meaningful, safe and structured program for you, and of course making a major contribution to the welfare of our animals! Our program is run by our Education Officers who are specialists in their field and specifically trained to impart their skills and experience, thus ensuring that you have the volunteering experience of a lifetime!
No previous experience is required, but you will need to be willing and enthusiastic! The work at the centres can be physically demanding at times due to the heat and dust but it is possible to do lighter duties.
What you can expect to do to help our elephants: unloading fruit and vegetables from the truck; weighing, washing and cutting up food and distribution into each eles bucket; cleaning out their pools and enclosures; filling hanging baskets with fodder (this is an exercise for the eles, both mentally and physically ); weighing and delivering of fodder by cart to the various enclosures; painting enclosures; evening walk** with the eles and their caregivers.
What you can expect to do to support our bears: preparation of food; delivering, by cart to each bear’s den, their freshly made porridge; building enrichment platforms and structures; scrubbing/cleaning out the pools; painting enclosures.”
Wildlife SOS are organising a trip to their operations in India to volunteer at their refuge in India this Autumn. If this floats your boat and you want to know more, please contact Debbie directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07831 433106. And if you want to know what the trip entails, here’s a recent testimonial from Emily Dankworth who recently visited the site in India.
So, that’s all things volunteering from me. If volunteering is something you’d like to look into - and I’m looking out for things I can devote some time to this winter - there are a plethora of websites advertising all sorts of opportunities. Just google “volunteering opportunities near me” and watch all sorts of stuff pop up.
I wish you well on your volunteering hunt.
Stay well and happy until next time