Why Wiston? The Value of Volunteering


Rick came to Wiston Lodge having done some volunteering with HelpX in France.

He had heard about Wiston’s reputation as a musical venue and he was interested in living a more outdoor-based, sustainable lifestyle. On arrival he loved the feel of the old hunting lodge, the wood-panelling and the pianos.

“It’s a place where you can think”, he summised.

Rick has settled in well and made friends. He’s learnt more about trees, has developed an interest in cooking and feels that he has become more tolerant as a person. He has also successfully applied for the position of part-time housekeeper at the Lodge and is now combining his volunteering with two days paid work for the charity.

When asked to sum up the highlight of his Wiston Lodge experience so far, Rick said “I’m not done yet! I’m still wanting more of it. It’s good to see human beings getting on...progressing…and having a laugh.”

Rick is a musician, a writer and enjoys political debate. After his volunteering interview (undertaken as part of Wendy's  research into Wiston Lodge’s volunteering set up), Rick went away and wrote an article, entitled: Why Wiston -The Value of Volunteering.

Rick’s article delves much deeper into the personal journey of a volunteer than Wendy's blog, hence why we are sharing it with you. It helps us focus on the core of our work and our interactions with others.

Rick's "Why Wiston -The Value of Volunteering" Article

The first time I heard about the Vodafone Foundation’s World Of Difference Programme, I was watching some interviews with one of my favourite writers Irvine Welsh, listening to him talk about his life and experiences and what inspires him to write. I watched a video entitled “Do give up your day job!” where he was saying how important it is for people to have experiences outside of the normal 9 to 5 which takes up the majority of people's time and energy, and also the opportunity to get out into the world to meet different people socially who do something completely different.

I can completely agree with the point he was making, having been stuck in a nine to five existence whilst feeling my instinct tell me there’s something more fulfilling for me happening just over the horizon. I also had a lot of friends and people I knew, bored of and trapped by work and television, so I decided (with some initial reservations) to start looking around me for a means of escape from this cycle.

I was lucky enough to come into a small amount of money and break away for a short time to go to Northern France. On the ferry over I already felt a great sense of freedom to be going for a while to volunteer with an English speaking family, helping them renovate their large old house and just join in with the chores and be treated like a member of the family from the start. In short, it was an eye opener for me. Being in a relatively hot country walking through the woods and fields and countryside, looking at the sunsets in a foreign land, going to French shops and just imagining and then seeing how other people live in a more laid back fashion, completely changed my perspective of how my life should be. It did not have to be exactly like France (though French life was good) or more importantly exactly like life in the UK. From this experience on, I realised that I could make my own life, now that I’d seen the possibilities that come from taking a chance and helping other people.

I think that every person at some point in their life yearns for such an experience, especially those who have had no opportunities and whose expectations of life are low. It can only be good for the human race if everybody gets a little experience of how other people's friendships and communities are built. It can also be valuable to volunteer in a different workplace to increase your own knowledge of how other businesses or organizations run, to shed light on your own attitude to work by seeing what motivates somebody else to give the best part of their life to something, and hopefully enjoy it as well.

Throughout all of my travels and volunteering I have come across many people with different attitudes towards life and work. Some of them you can learn about life from, and some you can learn lot about yourself and other people from. So whether it is traveling to the other side of the world, (which to some people believe it or not, may seem like hell!), or just by going to volunteer at a place in the next town along, the experience may be daunting at first but you will see how other people get along and get through their work day. Sometimes this may be by injecting humour into the mundane parts to make the day a success in terms of business, but more importantly in terms of the day for everyone involved personally. This can only move your point of observation on work and life to a different place where you can enjoy both more. To be able to enjoy work and have fun is a valuable character trait that is infectious, and most definitely needed everywhere today.

The most liberating thing about volunteering is when both you and whoever you're with feel like you have come a little further down the road, either as people or practically. The best part is you don’t have to pay somebody or pass an exam to experience what should be free to everyone. A better understanding of the world comes through mutual experiences and the chance to help other people realise their dreams.