My role in the Salute the NHS charitable undertaking has now come to an end. I wanted to share with you my thoughts commensurate with the volunteering aspects of this experience. They are spelt out as follows:
a. Volunteers. All who volunteer regardless of talent can contribute. The secret is to align ability with task. The risk is that in their haste to achieve things the strong can inadvertently squeeze out or overlook the less able or those managing a disability.
b. Assimilation. The volunteer space can bring together people who would never normally meet either professionally or socially outside of a commercial exchange. When they do, whilst volunteering, two things become apparent. Firstly, they understand each other better and secondly they like one another.
c. Life Style. The volunteering ethos is cross cutting. All cohorts of our community were present regardless of wealth, life style, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, profession or age.
d. Undertaking. For some to undertake volunteering activity it is a harder ask. The one income family wage disappeared in the 1980s, at least for the working class, now both adults are having to work long hours to pay the bills. Whilst the heart is willing life’s time demands can thwart intent. Moreover, society has inadvertently professionalised the volunteer space raising issues of legal culpability and professional capacity.
e. Emotional Health. The giving of time and kindness is an absolute tonic for one’s own emotional and mental wellbeing.
f. Spirituality. There was no evidence of proselytising and there was no evidence of hostility towards believers. Those of a faith background were accepted and made to feel comfortable.
The acronym “VALUES” captures these observations rather well and I am therefore delighted that Grae Laws our Business Manager is working with Cherwell District Council and Bicester Chambers to capture the lessons learned from this volunteering enterprise in order to improve the prosperity of our Community.