It feels like a really useful way to give back, as it does call on my existing skills.
Leah Furniss shares how using her professional experience has helped support charities and community groups in her volunteering role.
Q: What is your volunteering?
A: I am a volunteer funding assessor; I check funding applications from charities and community groups to make sure that the panel who make the final decision on their funding application have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Q: Who is it with?
A: Two Ridings Community Foundation
Q: How did you find out about it?
A: The Community First Yorkshire website (before I started working for them)
Q: Why did you get involved?
A: To expand my professional skills. I knew before starting a new role that I needed more knowledge and experience of funding applications and the processes and procedures around funding, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do this whilst also utilising my existing knowledge and skills.
Q: What do you like about your volunteering?
A: I like that it fits around all the other commitments I have, it feels like a really useful way to give back as it does call on my existing skills.
It’s also a really lovely and satisfying feeling when I work with a group who perhaps have not filled in the strongest application form because they do not have the knowledge or skills to ‘sell’ their project in this format. But when you talk to them and go through the form in more detail it becomes clear how great their project is and what a fantastic job they are doing or will do if given the funding; which I can then make clear in my report to the funding panel.
Q: Are there any challenges with your volunteering?
A: Occasionally I speak to a group who are tackling really difficult issues or are really struggling financially and these conversations can be hard it can have a really emotional impact. This has become more so during the current pandemic, but the charity I volunteer with have been really open in recognising that this is a challenge that their volunteers face. Particularly at the moment and I know that if I need too there will someone that I can talk through things with.
Q: What do you think is the biggest myth about volunteering?
A: That it involves a big or regular commitment – some volunteering does but not all, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved either informally, or as a one off or even online from home.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved?
A: Go for it just try it, if it doesn’t work out try something else. Lots of organisations offer taster or trial periods of volunteering. Also talk to your friends and family about what they do, do they volunteer do they enjoy it, and does the organisation need more people to volunteer.