International Volunteer Day

Monday, 5 December 2016

International Volunteer Day

5 December is International Volunteer Day. One of our volunteers, Thomas, has written his volunteering story.

How I volunteer

I am now an established volunteer for Nottingham Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, with all of my work based at their offices at Duncan Macmillan House on Portchester Road.

With well-established skills in software development, and more recently, qualifications and skills in website related development, my main area of volunteering is in developing a more dynamic front end to a website used for managing and reporting on the feedback of patients on the services which they have received from the NHS. More specifically, I will be replacing graphical information presented as a static picture with graphics generated dynamically from information in a database.

With experience of being on the autistic spectrum, I also volunteer for Story Shop afternoons. On such afternoons, a number of us travel to a venue (a local teaching hospital, the offices of the local authority, or a public library) to give an account of our health related experiences to successive groups of medical students, local authority employees, or interested members of the public. On such afternoons, I talk about my experiences of being on the autistic spectrum.

My journey into volunteering

In 2011, I became involved in an NHS related Community of Interest group dedicated to publicising the issues faced by people on the autistic spectrum. By this means, I was introduced to the Duncan Macmillan House Involvement Centre, the people who I know there, and Story Shop volunteering.

In 2014, enthusiasm faded for the Community of Interest group, and I found work as a contract software tester in London. Halfway through this year, this contract came to an end, leaving me unemployed.

My situation came to the attention of Duncan Macmillan House at about the same time as the requirement to add dynamic graphics to the patient feedback website.

What volunteering means to me

Being between paid employments, the act of volunteering gets me out of the house and on to premises where I can work with other people and hence feel less isolated.

My role in website related software development means that I am using skills which would otherwise lie dormant. In addition, I am expanding my skill set with new skills which will make me more employable.

My work is extremely interesting, and I enjoy overcoming the challenges presented by it. In time, I will have evidence of new skills learned which I can present to prospective employers.

The act of volunteering means that I am giving something to the community, hopefully an effort which will be well appreciated.

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