January 2012 I FINALLY plucked up the courage to volunteer at my first Camden Green Gym session.
I’d been wanting to change my career for a while I’d fallen into catering as a job during my studies and realised it really wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I wanted a better connection to the outdoors. After doing odd jobs for gardening companies I realised I was getting nowhere applying for gardening jobs with no skills or qualifications. The one thing I did have was time and volunteering was the answer. After visits to the local volunteer fairs, it took a couple of times for Shelia at Volunteer Centre Camden to tell me that TCV and the Green Gym was really was my best option in the area.
In truth I was reluctant, I thought – no way am I doing warm-up exercises in a park in front of people, I wouldn’t even go to a regular gym at the time.
Well, I went, incredibly shy Pete along to my first session. I don’t know why but I kept going back. It probably took me over a year of volunteering sporadically with the Camden Green Gym before I had a real conversation with anyone. I suppose that’s why I kept going because I could attend, do a bit of work, learn and interact with people as little as awkward shy Pete could muster up.
From there it took me while to pluck up the courage to ask to become a volunteer officer, then again some time till a paid role came up, but the progress since then has been steady. Going from a project assistant to a national role in the corporate team, my passion for delivering for over volunteers and partners has developed massively.
I think of the regular Camden Green Gym volunteers now as like having a group of extended grandparents and it’s fantastic on the rare occasion I get to see them all. They are so welcoming and supportive of the young Volunteer Officer’s who regularly come in learn the role then inevitably get a job, often with TCV!
I really didn’t intend to go into this career with a particular passion for helping people, but some of my proudest moments are the positive affects on others. The volunteer officers I’ve worked with and their achievements, they often come to us more academically qualified than me, but though TCV go on to great things! I massively value the opportunity to see peoples lives transform in part because of attending our projects and to hear on multiple occasions that the project saved their life, simply can’t be underestimated.
On occasion, I can’t believe where I am now 7 years later managing some of our national corporate partnerships and what I can do! It’s all down to my amazing managers Chris, Lizzy, Rachel, Katie and now Dougy, I’ve learnt everything from them by doing the job with their support. I’m genuinely excited by my role, the work I do and the impact it has for TCV, every day is different and I still find plenty of reasons to join our partners on site and meet our project officers, it always reminds me why we all work so hard for our partners.
I think you’d struggle to find an organisation that offers the breath that TCV does for volunteers. For me having never been in an office (unless it was to clean it after school) and always struggling with anything written and my spelling to this day (spot the many mistakes in this) it’s truly wonderful that I’ve had the opportunities I do. That is what TCV does, it transforms lives in the process of transforming green spaces and it has definitely done that for me!