Page of

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ SSAFA Volunteers Online Book https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/SSAFA/Contributions/Find/VOLUNTEEREXP/rickowen
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/SSAFA/Contributions/Find/VOLUNTEEREXP/rickowen

    Rick Owen

    Trowbridge, | 13 May 2017

     

    In 1991 I was coming to the end of 24 years with the RAF and an elderly man knocked at the door selling poppies door-to-door. We talked for a while and I subsequently attended a meeting of the local RBL club. In short time, I became the Hon Sec, then took on the role of Caseworker and Branch Welfare Officer and started helping the Poppy Appeal Organiser; some 12 years ago I took on the lead role as Poppy Appeal Organiser, modernised the project and have enjoyed some considerable success. When I retired from paid work in 2015 I did a SSAFA casework course and thoroughly enjoyed the slightly different management model – and find it enormously satisfying to take a case from initial enquiry, to the visit and interview, almonisation and sourcing what is required – through to the final closure. In my RAF career I was accustomed to the concept of “secondary duties” – running a social club, helping at the station youth club or sitting on a charity committee and so on – and it feels so natural to have more than one strand to my working life. Because so many of my roles are keyboard or office based, when I retired I also became a volunteer LINK driver, taking people to their doctor and hospital appointments and so on; this gives me the contrast between interviews, phone calls and typing up reports and then getting out and about, chatting to so many different people from various backgrounds, education, skills and experiences. The personal benefits of volunteering are just so profound it is hard to imagine a life without them. After a career in the RAF where almost everyone is employed, fit and leading a personally satisfying and challenging life it can be something of a shock to return to civvy street where so many people live with disability, illness or a lack of opportunity. As a volunteer, I do something about that in a very positive way that has a real impact on the clients’ life and it is just so satisfying. As a SSAFA caseworker I often visit people who are at the end of their tether with a problem and, as an outsider, I reassure them and put their problem into perspective. I use my contacts to ease the way, make the case for them using my experience and hopefully do something to help. As a LINK driver, I chat to my clients and ease the anxiety on the way to hospital, reassure them I’m looking out for them and try hard to help them feel better about their day. The people I meet all have a story and I would never have met them, chatted to them or shared a cup of tea with them were it not for volunteering. To meet people coping with profound disability, illness and disadvantage on a daily basis – and mostly still able to summon a smile – continues to affect me greatly. To hear their stories and their lives enriches me and makes me realise just how resilient, brave and extraordinary people are. I visited Tedworth House in Tidworth and spoke to squaddies who had lost limbs, ability and eyesight – the chatter was the same fizzy, often profane, optimism heard in a NAAFI anywhere in the world. When I took an elderly blind lady to a day centre she told me about a book an old friend had eventually had published, and her photograph was in it! When we got there, she showed me the appropriate page and there was the old lady, aged about 20, parachuting out over France as an SOE operative. When would I have met and chatted to that elderly lady were I not a volunteer? People are wonderful, and volunteering is the gateway to meeting them.

Add a Message

Previous Next

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ SSAFA Volunteers Online Book https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/SSAFA/Contributions/Find/VOLUNTEEREXP/trevorchrich
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/SSAFA/Contributions/Find/VOLUNTEEREXP/trevorchrich

    Trevor Chrich

    Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom | 13 May 2017

     

    In 20 years’ service in the Royal Navy I had hardly heard of SSAFA, but I did avail myself of an MBNA SSAFA credit card with the flags of the 3 services on it. Having retired from the service I became a criminal lawyer until retirement. Some years after I retired my next-door neighbour offered me a ticket to the local Armed Forces Day. The first stand I saw was that of SSAFA and I asked why the credit card had been abandoned. I was gently quizzed me about my career, my experience and then informed that there was a job which needed doing for which I was told I had the ideal qualifications: there was no Prison In-Reach caseworker in the branch, and 4 prisons to be covered. Within a day or so the Branch Chairman had phoned me and arranged a friendly interrogation at his home over coffee and biscuits. Within weeks caseworker and prison in-reach courses had been booked. Four months later I was in post. Eighteen months on and I am very busy and thoroughly enjoying the casework. My clients range in age from a young guardsman only just out of basic training to an old salt who served over 40 years ago. Many veterans feel vulnerable in prison, some are too ashamed of their conduct which led to imprisonment to admit that they have served, but all veterans be they inmates or prison officers have confidence in SSAFA and the work we can do. One client wrote to his MP suggesting that more ex-servicemen in prison should be sent to the prison where he was serving his sentence so that they could receive “great support” from SSAFA. Another wrote a letter of thanks stating: “ I will admit that at the moment I find myself just having to stop and take breath in order to let the realisation sink in that in a period of less than 4 months from being released from a position where at times I firmly believed there was no way back I now find myself looking towards a future where all things are possible and I am filled with renewed hope, energy and positivity. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without your unfailing help and support and the generous and frankly humbling investment made in my future by the charities involved I would not be in this position today.” It’s good to know that we can make a difference.

Add a Message

Next Previous