Prior to becoming involved in the Community Organisers programme I had done a large volume of voluntary work in various settings. However reflecting upon the past year volunteering in the Monks Road area of Lincoln, being a voluntary Community Organiser has been the most rewarding voluntary experience; and has also seen many examples of positive community volunteers.
I have been out door knocking and participated in pop up listening stalls, and each person I have spoken to has volunteered their time to give me their view. It may have only been for a few minutes, but they chose to stop and talk. These views have then been able to guide and inform the projects and events that myself and other volunteers have delivered, and which aim to improve the Monks Road community. This is bottom up, community led action at its best; actions taken by residents guided by the views of residents.
Over the year, the voluntary projects that I have been a part of have also seen many positive examples of volunteering. We have organised two community litter picks which have seen nearly one hundred people voluntarily give up their Saturday to clean their own streets. The Saturday morning football project we deliver continues to be attended by a number of families, and some of the parents are now starting to volunteer to help at sessions. Then there was the Big Gig we hosted in July which brought together many people who supported the event through a variety of means; most importantly the individual who on the day volunteered his generator after our original one failed.
As the year has progressed we have also now formed a resident group called Action LN2, a group of residents who voluntarily meet to organise the aforementioned projects, and are now beginning to plan the future actions we want to take. We all have busy lives, working, going to school, family commitments, exercise regimes (!); but we still want to meet as we are passionate about making a difference to where we live and enjoy being giving the opportunity to do this.
Community Organising is an empowering form of volunteering. It enables local people to take the action they want in their community and at the same time address issues that also concern other residents. This is why it is so rewarding; you know that what you are doing matters. As a volunteer you have also made it happen, whether you attend meetings, support events/projects, or simply offer your opinion on your own doorstep; you have helped shape this community action.