Tony Wilmott - how volunteering makes a difference
Last year I became involved with my local branch of the MS Society as the Branch Website Editor. After attending one of the regular monthly meetings I decided that the meetings weren’t my kind of thing, and set about trying something new.
I noticed that at the monthly meetings only around a third of our membership came along, and that typically the people who attended were older than me. I decided that the current meetings perhaps didn’t suit the younger at heart either in content or timing. Over a few months and discussions with the committee and National Centre Staff among others I decided to give something new a try.
In October we ran our first Branch Social. The idea was a simple get together in a bar or café on a weekend afternoon. The first session was a bit of a flop in some respects - myself, the chairman and one other member attended. Plus someone else had come to the venue, couldn’t find us and later emailed me! However not to be deterred, I decided we’d try another one.
I also decided that the social events should not always happen in the same location. Our branch area is essentially rural with around 8 larger conurbations. In January I decided on Felixstowe and a particularly pleasant Café Bar. The plan worked, we had a group of about 8 people attending including people with MS, carers & their children. Everyone said they enjoyed it and wanted another session.
This gave me the impetus to put together a list of dates for the next few months and see what happened. I can only describe what did happen as very pleasing for me. March saw a larger group enjoy a few coffees and spend a good few hours of chatting or laughing away with carers and families in Stowmarket.
Most people that are attending are younger and are not the same people at the existing monthly events. Everyone who has come along wants us to keep it up; we’ve even had requests for having a “good lunch” out somewhere soon. I am working on it.
I like to think that I have made a difference!
Think you can make a difference like Tony? You can volunteer as much or as little of your time as you want.
Get in touch with your local volunteering team to find out more.
Most people that are attending are younger and are not the same people at the existing monthly events. Everyone who has come along wants us to keep it up; we’ve even had requests for having a “good lunch” out somewhere soon.