On December 31st, 2012, I published a post on this blog. I gave it the title ‘Never Volunteer’, and it was about the fact that I was soon to begin two voluntary jobs. After seven months of living in Norfolk at the time, I felt the need to do something. To be useful, become an integral part of the community, and to get the chance to meet new people, and to travel to new places.
After eighteen months doing these two jobs, I resigned from them both this week. This was not done on a whim, or because of a fit of pique, cross words, or an episode of disappointment. I gave it due consideration, and realised that I did not have the enthusiasm and commitment necessary to continue. Neither role was unduly demanding. Teaching the Cycling Proficiency only involved two or three sessions a year, and working for the Fire Service involved doing as little or as much as you had time for. I did what I could, and when I felt sufficient inspiration to do it well. Talks to groups, safety checks in homes, and installing smoke alarms where necessary. I also worked with the school fire experience unit, which is much-loved by the children who attend it, and receives a great deal of positive feedback.
However, there are only so many times that you can install a smoke alarm, deliver the same safety talk to groups, or take kids through the fire safety routine, every ten minutes, six times an hour. Like any job, it soon becomes routine, and eventually stale and uninspiring. It is not the fault of the role, or indeed any fault in me. It is just how it is. Life is like that. Work, whether paid or voluntary, is still just work. Sure, you meet a few new faces, but only for the shortest time, and then you all move on. You get to see some new villages, discover unknown byways and back roads, or tucked-away streets. Once found, they are no longer new; the dilemma of exploration, I suppose. I had some issues with the Cycling Proficiency course, outlined in a previous post. To use a popular expression that I do not care for that much, those running it were ‘not on the same page’ as I was.
In the background, I was also feeling the need to develop my writing; perhaps branch out into more fiction, and generally improve what I was already doing. I thought that I might also enquire about my eligibility for reduced rate adult education courses in something of interest, or see if there were other voluntary roles in areas that I am attracted to, like history. Not least, I have to get my head around our much neglected domestic situation. Rooms undecorated after almost three years, and boxes of things still gathering dust in the garage, since the day I moved in. Although it may seem selfish, I decided that the personal and home needs should take precedence over the voluntary jobs, so I resigned.
Both organisations took it remarkably well. They were gracious, and full of praise and thanks for what I had done during the eighteen months. They sent good wishes, and kind words. I didn’t feel too guilty. After all, I spent thirty-three years working in the Public Services, and always did my voluntary jobs with professionalism, and to the best of my ability. So I bid farewell to the voluntary sector, at least for now. I do feel the need to make some comment though. If there had not been the spending cuts, confused council politics, and lack of funding from the outset, these organisations would not have to be so dependent on volunteers in the first place. Remember that when you next cast your votes.