Fundraiser to Trustee - Mandy West explains what motivates her to volunteer
Updated: Jun 6
Focus Surrey is a very special charity. It was started by a very good friend who worked so passionately and so hard to put together a local Saturday club for children with autism. I saw through her eyes how tough it can be to access specialised support at an affordable cost for yourself and your child when they have specific needs. She wanted to bring the therapy that she had found so beneficial for her family to other families and help to remove the barriers for them. From the start, I wanted to be part of this amazing work. I really wanted to support my friend and her precious daughter. I wanted to help ensure the club could continue each term supporting local families and help awesome children get the opportunities they deserve.
At first, I focused on helping raise money for the club. We had lots of fun trying to think of original fundraising ideas. Never a dull moment! One day I found myself rowing to the beat of a drum in a boat of Focus Surrey volunteers and supporters in the Kingston Dragon Boat Race, whilst more recently I was lucky enough to join in a virtual pamper night. Along the way I have sourced prizes for quiz nights and run cake stalls to try and keep the club affordable and ensure maximum inclusion, fundraising is of paramount importance, so I knew it was important to support this aspect. However, as I became part of such a supportive, fun and interesting community, I wanted to get more involved.
When the charity was recruiting a trustee, I came forward. I have always loved working with children and studied psychology at university, with a particular interest in educational needs, development and language. It has been such a great experience being a trustee for Focus Surrey, ensuring the club is meeting all its objectives and helping it through various challenges, such as recruiting sufficient volunteers and all the added pressures of Covid times. I find my tenacity but also my pedantic nature has helped!
Last term, I decided to volunteer as a one-to-one tutor with the children myself, feeling it was important to further train in the methodology the club is using and experience a club day from the volunteers' perspective. I really enjoyed getting to know the child I was working with and gaining his trust enabled me to challenge him further with his play and social skills. Working in a small team with other volunteers and the child they were paired with, the thorough training and having supervision from professionals on club days helped build my confidence in being able to make a difference. The tutor role has also been invaluable in helping me learn more skills and methods for my day job as a learning mentor in a primary school.
Five years on from first volunteering with the charity and three years on from first becoming a trustee, I feel really proud to be part of the Focus Surrey family.
If you would like to volunteer for Focus Surrey in September 2021 you can register here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Focus2021
If you would like to volunteer with fundraising, grant writing, marketing, photography, administration or any of the other vital jobs that help Focus Surrey run, then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org