Demetria, 21, University of Leeds
When I was 16, I moved to Middlesbrough on my own – since then, I don’t really know anyone in Barrow. I first started working with St Mary’s Hospice when I was around 19, and had just come back from my year abroad and found myself with an empty summer ahead of me. I was looking for some CV-fodder and thought that volunteering would at least get me out of the house.
It was a bit daunting at first because I didn’t know anybody, but I came in twice a week throughout the whole summer and ended up loving it. Volunteering forced me to get up and get dressed on rainy days, and made me talk to people that weren’t my mum and my dog – since once I’m out of my uni circle of friends, I tend to become a bit of a hermit.
Aside from how it benefitted me personally, I could feel good knowing that I was helping the local community.
Whenever I am in Barrow during the Christmas and summer holidays, I always come in and ask if they need any help. Even though I can’t commit five days a week for years on end, I can see with my own eyes, how just a few hours here and there whenever I can fit it in really benefits the shop. It’s also a great way to meet and get to know new people from different generations that I wouldn’t really get the opportunity to know otherwise.
I always feel really cheerful when I leave at the end of my session. Barrow can be a bit depressing, but helping the hospice and chatting away to other volunteers while we work can be really, really lovely. I’d recommend to anyone with a few hours to spare a week to come in. Worst case scenario – no one’s forcing you to go, so you can stop. Best case scenario – you can help the community, make some great new friends, have an amazing new “volunteering” section on your CV, develop tangible retail experience, learn about stock rotation, and how to use a till. The list goes on!