Tomorrow I start my first shift with Crisis at Christmas, and of course I'm a blend of excited and nervous. I shared some thoughts about volunteering at Christmas, and other ways you can help in this recent post, after I attended my training, so head over if you want to find out more about the different types of volunteering I've tried over the years, or if you want to find out ways that everyone can help, in the way that works best for them.
Volunteering isn't about being sainty or perfect, everyone who volunteers does it for a variety of reasons, and the reasons don't even matter, if at the end of the day you're helping people. Volunteering can be great if you're lonely yourself, or need something to do. Or you just want to enjoy what it feels like to "be a good person". Maybe you want to help pimp your CV (or Tinder profile!), by showing that you're able to contribute. All of these reasons are valid and okay.
So tomorrow, I'll be feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I'm managing one of the hair salons that are available to the guests of Crisis this Christmas. I say hair salon somewhat loosely, as its very make-shift, but the service will still be wonderful I've no doubt.
I know that once I've done one day, my nerves will be gone, it's always the unknown that is most stressful, but once we're in the flow of a busy salon day, I won't even think twice about any nerves. I'm excited to meet the other volunteers too.
I recently went to a carol concert to acknowledge the 50th year of Crisis (not a celebration as they wish it wasn't needed anymore of course) and I heard a ex-Crisis guest give a talk. It was exactly what I needed to hear before I get going. He grew up in a chaotic household, sometimes in foster care, and sometimes with his Mum. He got into crime, and ended up in jail. He was out on probation, and sofa-surfing. He was taken to Crisis to see if they could assist with his housing. They ended up enrolling him in their Shakespeare sessions. He took to it, and decided he wanted to act. A probation violation took him back to jail, where Crisis wrote to him, and posted him Shakespeare to learn and read. His commitment to his acting helped with his parole board, and he was released early, and ended up applying (with a lot of support from Crisis) to 4 drama schools. 3 offered him a place, and he got his degree at RADA. His first job was a touring Shakespeare play, and he's even played a policeman on Casualty (he chuckled at that bit). Apologies if any of these details are slightly off, but it really reminded me of the power of small actions having bigger impacts. You can't save everyone, and not everyone is ready to be saved, but sometimes, just sometimes, you catch someone at the right time, with the right support. If that's not inspiring, I'm not sure what is!