As with all organisations, the trustees on the Hampshire Cultural Trust board are all volunteers who give their time freely to support the work of the trust. We have been catching up with new trustee Karen Chillman, who, as well as volunteering as a trustee, is Head of Volunteering at Croydon Voluntary Action.
Volunteering is a powerful force that has the ability to create positive change in both individual lives and communities at large. For many, myself included, volunteering holds a special place in our hearts and plays an integral role in shaping who we are.
One of the most compelling reasons why volunteering is so important to me is the personal growth and development it offers. Engaging in volunteer activities allows me to step out of my comfort zone, challenge myself and learn new skills. Each volunteering opportunity is a chance to expand my horizons, gain fresh perspectives and develop a well-rounded set of abilities. Through volunteering - as a Brownie Guider, organising community activities on an inner-city estate and volunteering as a trustee - I've learned to communicate effectively, work as part of a team and adapt to various situations. These are skills that are not only valuable in volunteer work but also in all aspects of my life.
Volunteering provides a unique platform to connect with people from diverse backgrounds who share a common goal: making a positive impact. Through these connections I have made lasting friendships and developed meaningful collaborations. By interacting with individuals who are equally passionate about giving back, I've been able to build a network of like-minded individuals who inspire and support each other. The relationships formed through volunteering are based on shared values and experiences, making them particularly meaningful. After moving to Basingstoke a few years ago, I was looking for a volunteering opportunity that suited my skill set, but which needed to be flexible as I work full-time in London. I searched online at the local volunteer centre (Basingstoke Voluntary Action) and other local websites. While visiting Milestones Museum, I signed for a family pass and the ‘Make Do and Mend’ volunteering role. We then went into lockdown so it was put on hold. Still looking for something to do, I spotted the advert for a trustee position with Hampshire Cultural Trust: after looking at the task description, I thought I would apply and so here I am!
Contributing to a greater purpose is a driving force behind my dedication to volunteering. Knowing that my efforts, no matter how small, can make a difference in someone's life or in a community is incredibly fulfilling. Whether it's assisting the weekly phone to a person who is feeling isolated, participating as a London Ambassador during LONDON 2012, or mentoring young people, the impact of volunteer work has been tangible and rewarding. This sense of purpose gives my life a deeper meaning and reminds me of the positive change that can be achieved through collective effort.
Volunteering exposes me to diverse perspectives and challenges that people face in various walks of life. This first-hand experience cultivates empathy and understanding, helping me break down stereotypes and preconceived notions. Engaging with individuals who have different life stories and backgrounds fosters a broader worldview and encourages open-mindedness. As a result, I become not only a more compassionate individual but also an advocate for social justice and equality. There are hundreds of opportunities to get involved in your local community - recently I have been involved with a charity whose volunteers are DOGS! The dogs (and the human owners) befriend lonely or isolated individuals.
I have had so many memorable moments within my volunteering journey, but it’s the small moments that often come back at this time: the young woman with two young children coming up to me in the supermarket saying, ‘hello Brown Owl’ and introducing her children to me, telling them about the fun time she had on holidays I organised and the lifelong friends she had made; the young man that I acted for as an Appropriate Adult Volunteer when he had been arrested turning his life around and inviting me to his graduation; being invited as a volunteer to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.
One of the most powerful aspects of volunteering is its ability to inspire others. By dedicating time and effort to a cause, I hope to serve as a role model for others to join in and make a difference. When people witness the positive impact of volunteer work, they are more likely to be motivated to get involved themselves. This creates a ripple effect that can lead to exponential change and improvements in communities.
Volunteering is an integral part of my life because it enables personal growth, facilitates meaningful connections, contributes to a greater purpose, builds empathy and inspires others to join in creating positive change. Through volunteering, I've learned that even the smallest actions can have far-reaching consequences. As I continue on my journey as a Hampshire Cultural Trust trustee, I would like to encourage and support the growth of volunteering across the trust.
Discover more about volunteering opportunities across the county on our website.