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Thousands of volunteering hours clocked by City of Bristol College staff

Celebrating our staff’s dedication to the local community through volunteering is just one of the many ways in which we are supporting the nationwide Good For Me, Good For FE campaign.

A recent survey of college staff found that more than 10,000 hours of voluntary work is completed each year. The Good For Me campaign aims to highlight the social value which can be created through volunteering, and support staff and students in FE settings to get involved.

We have already celebrated the fantastic efforts of four members of staff and now we are excited to share three more fantastic stories.

Our Level 1 Care students at SBSA came together to run a foodbank collection in the lead-up to Christmas for Withywood Foodbank, with several boxes of food collected.

Here are some of the inspiring stories we’ve heard from our staff:

Photo of Elisa Williams

Name: Elisa Williams

Role at the College: Assistant Director of MIS

What volunteering do you do: Oh – much too much! I am involved in Scouting on a group level with six to eight-year-olds, as well as across a district. I also volunteer running a small youth and adult choir, managing a community resource and actively involved in my local church in many different ways through music, children’s work and worship.

How many hours do you spend volunteering a week: It probably ends up being about 12 hours a week on average.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering: I like supporting others to take part in activities and enhance their life experience. It keeps me busy and active and gives me a chance to do those things I enjoy as well. I started in a role as an Assistant Leader in Scouting when I was 15 years old and have never left but taken on extra responsibilities. It has been amazing to see the journey of young people and knowing the direct impact and feedback in enabling those people grow in confidence. 

I guess the overriding thing is enabling others to do the things they want to do and knowing this helps them get enjoyment and leisure time – as well as providing support.

Why should other people start volunteering: Many of us like to undertake leisure activities which are, very often, run by volunteers. They cannot exist without people giving up their time and sometimes, even twice a year, would help. For example, in Scouting, we run a Young Leaders training programme which some of our staff could help with as they also learn about styles of communication, different learning styles and managing difficult situations.

Not only that but it also opens you to new experiences and challenges you as well. It is incredibly rewarding to know you help others.

Name: Chris Gwynne

Role at the College: Facilities Manager

 What volunteering do you do: Beaver Scout Leader and Building Manager at the Second Portishead Scout Group.

How many hours do you spend volunteering a week: 10 hours plus.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering: As a Beaver leader of more than six years, seeing the children in our care develop and move through the Scouting movement is amazing. They start with us at around six years old, often nervous and sometimes scared, but the look on their faces when they achieve something they thought was impossible, such as climbing a structure 10-15 metres high or hitting a target throwing an axe is what makes me keep coming back.

I’m also on our group executive committee and support the group with everything to do with our hut and land, providing facilities and equipment to sections which need it most to ensure the children enjoy their time in Scouting.

Why should other people start volunteering: The friendships you make, the confidence it gives you and the satisfaction that you feel knowing you are giving something back to the community is worth it.

Name: Tania Case

Role at the College: Contracts Officer (Finance Department)

What volunteering do you do: Until recently (I stopped to help care for my dad in his later stages of Alzheimers) I volunteered for:

  • Roots (homeless outreach)
  • Suicide Prevention Bristol
  • The River of Life Christian Centre

Through the River of Life Christian Centre, I volunteer in the Shine Project which encourages ladies to shine over their circumstances. I work with those who have no self-belief and show them just how much they have to offer and their value and worth.

I also volunteer through the centre with the Ladies Day team which put on large and small events to encourage women in their personal faith. I am a part of the Set Free team, which is around street evangelism and the follow-up support, and finally I am part of the Alpha Course team.

Currently the volunteering I continue to do is the projects linked to my church but I hope to increase my volunteering as the year goes on.

How many hours do you spend volunteering a week: On average about 10 hours a week.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering: I enjoy being able to be part of supporting and changing people’s lives. Seeing people overcome their circumstances and gain new skills and friends along the way is great too. Knowing I have done something help someone in need makes it all worthwhile.

Why should other people start volunteering: I am a real advocate for volunteering – it changes lives. It is an incredible privilege to be able to help others and, in some cases, volunteering is what keeps services going and those services can be a lifeline to the users and could be the only thing that is having a positive impact on their lives.

You get so much through volunteering, not only learning new skills and gaining friendships but it raises your understanding and awareness of the world we live in through the eyes of people’s stories and journeys.

It makes you feel very humble that a few hours volunteering can be a life changing experience to those you volunteer for.

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