I was shocked last night when Adam came home and started for the third day in a row to tell me about a scheme he has signed up to at work, what shocked me was it now turns out that in the whole or the admin and records department of the hospital he works in, he is the only person to volunteer. A few days ago an email had gone out looking for people to mentor a young person who had never had a job since they left school, they had to have been unemployed for at least six months and all of it would be done during working hours. Adam decided that he would like to help and came home full of chatter about the role he had chosen to take on and how he was going to have to attend a seminar at Glasgow university so that he would be able to pass on everything that he could. Apart from that, it means that he will have the person with him for a few days, during which he will basically take him through what he does and what the job entails. Simple enough and a scheme that happened last year from which a few actually gained employment as porters. Because of my health I haven’t actually met any of the people he works with, although I feel I do actually know them as I am given daily updates on most of their lives, so when none other than Adam agreed to help someone who needed it, well I was disappointed in all of them.
When I worked for BT I took on several rolls which had to be done in our own time, but I volunteered to be a BT Ambassador and to be a BT mentor, it was the second which I enjoyed the most as I found myself being able to make a real difference to a kids life. As always when I want it, I can’t actually remember the boys name, but he came from a not too great area of Glasgow, his parents were divorced and he was failing in school, very quickly I learned why, no one was pushing him or encouraging him to achieve at anything, he was just drifting and hurting. I was in contact with him for about 6 months and during that time, his grades improved, just because one person showed him there was another side to life and that working to achieve had a real purpose and felt good as well. He too came to work with me for a couple of days and I trained him how to sell over the phone, he even managed to get a couple of sales, which was enough to make him feel a ten feet tall. I put trust in him and he didn’t let me down, it takes so little to make a change in someone’s life and finding that others just aren’t willing to even do that, well as I said, it disappoints me, big style.
I know that people not wanting to give up their own free time to help others, has always happened, it might be my imagination, or just that my views colour the way I see things, but I honestly think that people have become more selfish and self-centred in the past 20 years or so. When I was first married, because of my then husband being in the Navy, getting employment was really difficult as employers knew all too well that we could up and go half way across the country, on a moments notice. So I got involved with anything that came along where I could help others, from having children stay with me for two weeks in the summer so that their disabled parents could take some respite, to helping to run a Guiding troop and I even set up and helped run a social club for the families on our estate. Every move we made always brought me more and different volunteering roles, I even when out collecting money door to door for charities with my 1 and 2-year-old children in tow. Volunteering was a natural thing for me to do and I continued saying yes to anything that came along until I became the person who needed taking care of. Personally other than physically not being able to, I see no reason for anyone to not do something to help others, the favourite one of sorry I have kids and I just don’t have the time, is rot, I had kids when we took on the Navy, won and got a house off them to turn into a community centre. In the past 20 years, the attitude of “what is in it for me?”, seems to have grown and grown, to many people want help, but won’t give it.
What people don’t seem to understand about helping others, is that it also helps you at the same time. I got so much joy out of doing whatever I could whenever it was needed, it makes you feel whole, a more rounded person and also makes you part of something so much bigger than just your circle of friends and family. Clearly I would recommend to anyone of you reading this, that if you get the opportunity to volunteer, do it, don’t think about it, just do it as it is worth every second that you put into it.
There is a system now running in Japan that I heard of a couple of years ago, were all the hours that you work as a volunteer are banked, so that if you need assistance in your later years, your are then entitled without payment for the same number of hours free assistance. With an ageing population and the cost of care for the elderly always rising, it strikes me as an incredibly good idea. I don’t know how you would go about setting such a system up, but if it was taken on by a charity like Age Concern, I can see that it could work amazingly well. All of us will one day face the inevitable that we will need the help of others, even if it is just to clean your home and do your shopping for you, that time will come. It is too late for someone like me, but if I were fitter I know that it is a system that I would be happy to sign up to and to take part in, like so many other things, it is worth thinking about.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 16/05/12 – Adjusting with love
I suspect that all of us have had those moments when it is as though you have woken up and you are seeing things for the first time. Suddenly when you look around you, you are seeing for the first time just how beautiful your home is. OK you know you have seen it every day, but this time, it is different, it is more colourful, more beautiful and more inspiring than it was the day before. I know I am not the only one this happens to, as I have spoken about it to others before and it really is a wonderful feeling, as you are seeing things and appreciating with new eyes. Somehow those…..
I also used to volunteer (girl scouts, organizing special events for school fundraisers, family days at a local museum, etc.) Always came away feeling good about what was accomplished.
Now, having M.E., it is not possible to physically volunteer anymore. When feeling up to it, advocating on invisible illnesses – usually by re-blogging-putting the word out on “random acts of kindess” is a way for me to fill that void. It still makes me feel good! It is a shame most people do not understand this.
Love what Japan is doing!
Thank you for another terrific blog!