Brian Walker is a longstanding admin volunteer for RVA and has also helped with the Get Online Reading project
Brian was already carrying out his volunteering remotely when lockdown started, so was perfectly placed to carry on supporting the RVA team. If you have ever submitted a form via the RVA website, chances are it is Brian who has processed it. Here he reflects on the benefits of volunteering in retirement.
My role with RVA is as a volunteer doing simple office tasks such as updating the online database with news items, events, organisation details and volunteering opportunities.
It started when, shortly after retiring from full time employment 10 years ago, I found myself at a bit of a loose end. Most of my working life had been long days travelling around the country solving (mainframe) computer problems, leaving home at 6am and returning around 7pm. Later I was responsible for getting the company approved for BS5750 (now ISO9000) Quality management audits around the country. There had been little opportunity to develop local friendships. I had also been an EHS and Quality manager at an engineering company involved in the refining of precious metal and making industrial components based in Chessington (not the most popular person in any organisation). When the company closed, many of the employees returned to their native country. I decided I needed a reason to regularly get out, meet people and challenge the brain but without the stress and responsibilities that I had before.
Looking at the RVA website I saw a task (with RVA) that I thought would suit me. RVA took me on to help in the office, realising that they could use my experience with word processing, spreadsheets and databases. Most of my work is transcribing the entries that voluntary organisations submit onto the public website.
They also tapped in to my experience of writing procedures so I was set the task of creating scripts that could be used by other volunteers to help manage the database entries. Over time these have needed updating as RVA moved on to different databases. Along with that there was the occasional challenge of developing spreadsheets to analyse the data from the website. This has kept the brain active.
For a couple of years I also helped with the Get Online Reading project. That could be challenging as every session someone would come with a different need or problem, as well as the differences between devices.
Has Covid-19 affected my work? The major effect is that there are not so many new entries of events, opportunities etc. to process. I have been able to continue that work at home so it has not been interrupted. Perhaps, when we ease out of lockdown the amount of work will increase again.*
To anyone considering volunteering I would say “try it”, especially if you are feeling isolated. There is a task out there somewhere that will suit your needs and abilities.