As part of our Volunteers’ Week 2016 profile series, I went along to a very busy and lively Sport in Mind badminton session to speak with volunteer David Croker. Once I could drag him away from the courts, he spoke to me about his experience of volunteering.
How did you get involved in volunteering?
It came about from having the time after taking voluntary redundancy at work. I didn’t really want to go straight back into the working environment and wanted to do a few of my own things to fill my time
I was doing technical and commercial stuff at work and felt that I’d like to do something more people orientated – I saw volunteering as an opportunity to do this. I saw an RVA advert in the local paper for helping out with Sport in Mind. I played a bit of badminton when I was younger, not to any professional level, but just as a good social thing to do. I felt it was something that I was good enough at to teach a few people a few things and have an enjoyable time doing.
What does the volunteering involve?
Obviously I knew it was a mental health charity but I didn’t really know what to expect from the people that would be attending the sessions.
I was really surprised by the standard when I joined, there were some very good badminton players that really didn’t need any help. New people were coming along that were good enough to get going straight away and the ones that weren’t, we would get them involved through practice sessions to make them feel part of it.
Trevor, who runs the sessions, also throws in some fun games, like getting lots of people on one side of the net hitting the shuttle back to just one person. It’s fun. We try to make it fun for everyone….
What do you get out of it?
It makes me feel good about myself. It’s helping people whilst helping to keep me fit. It gives lots of intangible benefits. It‘s a good thing to do on a number of levels.
What difference do you make to those you are helping?
You see the newer ones joining the group. They’re very tentative to start with, but we play little fun games to include them and get them started… and you see them grow. They come in and they always go away looking happier and cheerful. So whatever is going on in their lives, you at least know they’ve had a good couple of hours’ enjoyment out of that week.
I was never that sporty when I was younger, but over the years I’ve realised how making the effort to partake in physical activity can really improve your mental wellbeing. I think that’s one of the things that’s really good about these sessions for the people we work with, once they get here and join in they really love it.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering?
I would definitely recommend it. Everyone’s got different priorities in their lives, but I think if you’ve got the time and you find yourself at a loose end then definitely give it a go. It’s not just doing it, but the things you don’t realise you get out of it that make it worthwhile.
Inspired by David’s story? Take a look at opportunities to get involved with Sport in Mind
Not the sporty type? Not to worry you’ll find lots of other ways you can get involved at www.rgneeds.me