“Volunteering helped me discover my vocation”- Jo’s story

14th May 2019

In 2014, I learnt the hard way that life can be cruel and unpredictable. My husband and father of our two small children died. In the same year both my parents died, and a very dear friend. Huge loss followed huge loss, and the emotional turmoil that followed was indescribable.

Somehow I faced the fallout. We moved home, pulled together, and survived. With no life insurance, and some people trying to take advantage of my vulnerability, it took all my strength. During the years that followed I’ve learnt the value of putting one foot in front of another, focussing on each day just to keep going. Hitting the bottle and giving up wasn’t a path I let myself take. I didn’t start smoking again. This made me realise that I was facing up to it, that one of the lessons I learned is that life is extremely precious.

Fast forward to 2018, and I wanted to make plans, get my life back. I changed career and took a law degree, a new direction from my previous drama degree and career in communications. This is when I became a volunteer for the first time.

I signed up with the Citizens Advice Bureau, which is varied and interesting, and I discovered volunteering in the NHS. For a couple of days a week I volunteer in the legal team at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust. It is proving to be invaluable. Not only am I getting great practical experience of dealing with legal issues in a healthcare setting, it fits in with my family life, and an extra pair of hands is a great help to the team who work so hard. It has confirmed my desire to work in the public sector and I am excited to have the opportunity to give something back to the community I live in.

When you have been through difficult times, been in a corner you can’t imagine you will get out of, the strength you find to get through it can be put to further uses. Volunteering gives me more than a warm fuzzy feeling of doing good, it is helping me back in to the workplace and discover my vocation. For anyone who feels that life is finished, I say, there is always something around the corner that will help you keep going. This is the wonderful thing about life, and it is a very precious thing.


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