Keith Greene volunteers for the RVA supported shopping service
What made you want to volunteer during the coronavirus outbreak?
I have been working with Reading FC Community Trust since 2014 as a Social Inclusion officer. Before moving to the UK I was involved in youth work back in my home town of Waterford in the sunny southeast of Ireland. A lot of this youth work was voluntary as I wanted to experience as many different organisations as possible .
I haven’t been volunteering here in the UK as work has taken up most of my time over the past couple of years. As soon as this pandemic hit us in March I found myself going from five full working days to possibly none. I am not they type of person who can sit around and do nothing, and I realised that there was going to be an awful lot of families and vulnerable people put into terrible situations where, due to their underlying health conditions or those of their family, they would be unable to to leave the house for essential items.
Tell us about your volunteering role
From speaking to a work colleague one day, he explained about RVA, and that they were looking for volunteers to shop for families . I jumped at the chance to help out in the local community and applied to become a volunteer in this time of need. The process was an interview on zoom with Steve. I then had to provide my current DBS and safeguarding certificates – I was lucky to have all this at hand as my job requires to have these up to date.
My first shopping assignment in Asda was daunting, as I had no idea where items were, and following someone else’s shopping list is a lot more difficult than my usual personal shop. After two or three assignments I found this easy enough, and some days I was completing two different shopping assignments for different families. I have met some amazing people while delivering to families and have had great chats along the way. I even met a man who had been a Reading fan for over 50 years who was isolating alone. We had a great chat about Reading through the years and I could see that our 10 minute chat meant so much to him. Meeting and helping people is a big part of my job role and to be able to continue this through these tough times has actually helped me realise even more that there are so many people that were struggling before and will be long after this pandemic has passed.
What would you say to somebody thinking about volunteering?
For anyone who is thinking of volunteering I would say that there is no better feeling in the world than helping someone, no matter how big or small that deed is. Don’t think ‘I will be no good’ or ‘I haven’t anything to offer anyone’ – everyone has something to offer. A simple little chat for 10 minutes or a quick trip to the shop can mean so much to someone. Things that some people take for granted can change a person’s life for the better.