With International Volunteer Day on December 5th, Miranda Asher talks about the ‘high’ volunteering can give you.
LimbPower are a UK based charity in their tenth year, who support individuals with limb difference. Last weekend saw their final event before Christmas: a children’s fundamental skills workshop, teaching under tens how to run, jump and, in this instance, try and take out their parents in a very one-sided game of dodgeball.
The day starts in a very frosty Bath (the city, not the bathroom fixture) and an almost frostier sports hall, where I stand wearing a Santa hat. It’s not quite December, but it is the last event of the year and I am feeling the chill, so happily pop it on my head and continue the warm greetings with hugs from the other members of the charity. Families start to arrive, including a few children we last saw in a pram, now crawling around here to have a hop, skip and jump themselves.
My role at this charity event is as a Prosthetic Chartered Physiotherapist and Biomechanist, but my propensity as a chatty interferer feels just as important. Over the course of this event, I coax children to put on their prosthetic limbs, encourage parents to fill in a survey, assess walking patterns, hand out ham sandwiches and teddy bears, answer parental requests for advice and sprint around the hall while one very enthusiastic regular finds the biggest basketball to throw directly at my head under this guise of dodgeball (there goes the Santa hat). The event ends, and the chaotic array of balls, cones and crayons on the floor are tidied away.
These events always end with me on a ‘high’. Strangely, I find volunteering similar to being an independent worker. Essentially, attendance is my decision – but happily there is no tax return. There are great collaborations between different types of experts: the experienced clinician, the long-time end user, and the researchers. There is a large sense of pride associated with the resulting fact sheets making their way into prosthetics clinics, schools and sports centres. Plus, I get to have my face painted (an essential part of any job).
While many charities appreciate your physical donations, most of them say the most valuable thing you can give is time. So if you have any, please give generously.