Paid Work Vs Volunteer

I thought I would share with you my other passion in life….

As well as being a very successful professional I have also spent a great deal of valuable time in the volunteer sector, very much enjoying giving something back to the community. 

For over 5 fantastically fulfilled years, I spent a great deal of my personal time volunteering for a First Aid organisation in Scotland, which demands very similar expectations very similar to my paid work – My training, education and development for these two roles took very distinctive paths but sometimes these paths inevitably cross!

Whilst wearing each of the employed and volunteer hats, so to speak, I took responsibility for teams, I organised and managed resource, I was accountable for what happens on my ‘watch’ and I provide personal and professional on-going support to all those around me. Here is where the similarities end!

Within the workplace each employee has a contractual obligation to fulfil their duties, however in the volunteer sector there is no financial or material incentive for people to give up their time.  Voluntary organisations rely on the dedication of their members to enable them to complete their public obligations.

Over a typical twelve-month period of volunteering, I would quite easily rack up in excess of 700 hours of public duty – but it was not all about bandages and blood!  Would quite often carry out extra duties to support the community, such as attending local Girls’ and/or Boys’ Brigade companies to provide all the young people with basic life-saving skills. That aspect was always a particularly rewarding experience as I was able to see the enthusiasm and vigor with which they got involved and not forgetting the end result – my local community now has another 80, 90, 100+ potential lifesavers looking after the general public as and when they should unfortunately need it.

During my time I was also successfully awarded a prestigious placement on the St Andrew’s First Aid Leadership course, which saw 16 of just over 1500 volunteers go through a very taxing, yet rewarding plan of five – 2 day developmental sessions looking at areas such as leadership and coaching, motivational understanding and self-belief modules amongst other areas.  Although very in-depth, the Leadership course, coupled with the ILM courses provided by my then employer, was a valuable journey to be on and I believe has very much helped me look at many things differently regarding both business and personal aspects of my life.

One of my proudest moments in my 5 year stint was to receive an email from our National Headquarters asking would I, along with another members, like to represent the organisation at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  I saw this as a great honour to be afforded this opportunity to mark something so moving and to do so whilst supporting such a worthwhile organisation that is St Andrew’s.  So on Friday November 9th that year, we headed down to London, spent the day with many others like us in the care of a Drill Sergeant and learnt how to march in front of many dignitaries and of the course HRH The Queen.  Something I had never previously done and that was very much a task in itself.  It is something that I will hold very dear to my heart for many years to come, a proud and pleasant opportunity indeed!

St Andrew’s First Aid supports a wide spectrum of events throughout the country including football matches, concert venues, charity cycles and swims, fetes and festivals.  Of course, to enable them to provide comprehensive cover we require the correct equipment and the purchase and maintenance of such in turn has substantial costs attached.

As a charity, St Andrew’s rely heavily on public donations and organised charity events and collections to finance equipment and supplies. The company I volunteered for and was attached to is, Inverclyde Company and some of our time, whilst there, 2 years in fact, we spent fund raising towards a new MFAP (Mobile First Aid Post), to allow us to support events in the community.  I was, once again very proud to have been a part of that fund raising which enabled us to raise over £32000 and we did indeed obtain the MFAP prior to me moving on to pastures new when our second Daughter was born.

What was our response to this achievement? – “Let’s make it two so we can provide a National Support for central resource!” So, needless to say we went on to raise another £32000 for a second vehicle and I am pleased to report that they also achieved that.  Don’t ever let it be said that the Scots have short arms and deep pockets, it really is not true!

My passion for coaching, leading and for volunteering as a First Aider are all on par and give me equal amounts of pleasure and personal return but in totally different ways.

First Aid Saves Lives.