Liz Amiel, volunteer
I found out about volunteering for Healthwatch Haringey from a friend who has been part of the volunteering force for a couple of years. He had found the experience very rewarding and thoroughly enjoyed the various “jobs” he had undertaken. He knew that I missed my work as a consultant IT trainer and felt that I needed to get out and meet people and, hopefully, feel useful again!
I wasn’t sure whether any of my experience would be relevant or useful but, after talking to Mary the Volunteer Coordinator on the phone, I felt confident enough to attend a stallholder training session. I met so many wonderful people who cared so much about the community they lived in and were prepared to make a difference by volunteering.
I did very little at first, apart from sorting and delivering leaflets and posters, as there was a slight delay in getting my DBS check, so I was hesitant about attending the Christmas lunch, as I felt I hadn’t yet earned such a treat. I am so glad I did attend – it gave me a chance to meet even more amazing people and to find out about the various volunteering opportunities that Healthwatch Haringey and Public Voice offer.
One of the many things I really appreciate is that there is no minimum time commitment. I can volunteer as often (or as rarely) as I want. I am sole carer for my son, who is on the spectrum but, with the support of MENCAP, he has just started an apprenticeship with Homes for Haringey as a carpenter which will free up much more of my time and, I know I will get seriously bored if I don’t do something!
A major highlight for me was when Mary asked if I would sit on the interview panel for the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) lead at North Middlesex Hospital. It was a full day, and I must admit I was very nervous at first, as I hadn’t recruited staff for some years. However, it was a wonderful experience. I arrived home that evening tired, but exhilarated. I felt that, at least my toe was back in the work water and that I still had a contribution to make.
I feel that I am still able to learn new skills, and know that I will be supported when I try something new. I am looking forward to helping out with a stall, or contributing to Coffee and Computers. I am sure there are many people in the same position as I am – retired from work, but hopefully not from being useful. Skills and experience can still be utilised and can make a difference to our community. I am lucky, I have a large family and some wonderful friends, but volunteering would certainly ensure I never felt lonely or “past it”.
I may be a new volunteer, but I hope to be part of Healthwatch Haringey for many years to come and I know it will help keep my