How has volunteering impacted me?

A Volunteer's Perspective - Chris

May 2020

I’m not quite sure how I came to be aware of Link UP.

It matters not…

I was initially impressed with the whole idea of well-organised, well-structured mini-projects – which fitted me well. My background in the IT industry (15 years with a major software consultancy, where I ran large and small projects; then 20 years doing the same with my own IT business) was geared to: understanding the problem, sorting a solution and successful delivery. This seemed to fit with the Link UP vision.

Link UP is a bunch of very committed individuals – but the organisation and its ethos is far greater than the sum of the parts! Specifically, the Link UP team is very inclusive – when I offered some suggestions in various areas, I was immediately included in discussions of the Link UP business development programme – a role that I enjoy incredibly and I find very fulfilling.

Most importantly, Link UP is very receptive to its volunteers’ needs. Last year, I was given a terminal prognosis for liver cancer. Rather than cross me off the list, they did the opposite, and found me a short, sharp project for Age UK in Wandsworth – simply helping AUKW to replace their ageing database system. It transpired that Age UK needed far more than that! The Age UK team have been incredibly flexible and have embraced me as an integral part of their group – which over the past few months has been fantastic for both sides. The lockdown has slowed our project down somewhat, but we are very much looking forward to a successful conclusion as soon as we can get it all going again. Meantime we are keeping things rumbling along remotely. (You may have gathered that I have outlived my initial prognosis, and while I still have things to do, I shall continue to do them with Link UP.)

Finally, I think that Link UP is at the forefront of understanding that there is a massive pool of skilled people who are going through the “end-of-career” process – coming up to retirement, at retirement, or post-retirement. Many people in this situation really want to continue to use their skills productively; pass on their skills (mentoring); and/or generally want to still be valued members (and net contributors) of the community. Not just “old age pensioners”!!

Specifically, many of these people bring not only specific skills, but also a huge knowledge of the market place – who to talk to; who is really good – with many personal contacts that, perhaps, younger professionals have not yet had the opportunity to acquire. Obviously, a key issue is how Link UP can continue to identify and grow the volunteer skill-base and, in parallel, attract the charitable organisations that would really benefit from them. Keep it up Guys ‘n Girls! ?

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