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Big Local and volunteering’s rewards

15 January 2016

As #BigVolunteer gathers pace and we continue to shine a light on projects we fund that are looking for volunteers, Ellen Burns-Pearce, shares her #BigVolunteer story. Ellen is 29 and a volunteer for Scotlands and Bushbury Hill Big Local

“I got involved with Big Local because I wanted to start a mental health support group. I had been a carer for my mom when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was traumatic and lonely, it was hard to reach out for help and I didn’t want to burden my mum with my worries about her health. After she was in remission I found myself asking – could I help anyone who was feeling the same isolation and fear that I had as a carer?

I applied for funding from Scotland’s Big Local and was given £1,000 to start up the S.I.T. (Someone is There) Project. We offer friendship, understanding and a listening ear. Members can talk freely with the strict policy that whatever is discussed never goes any further. The support group started with three people and now we help around 13-20 people per week.

Volunteering in my community has been challenging but also rewarding. What I find most rewarding is the feeling of making a difference. A few hours a week is nothing, yet in those hours I find that you can help people so much. Some people who come to S.I.T. are lonely, scared of rejection and very isolated, but gradually, they share things they have never told anyone before and make friends.

The rewards are not only helping the community but helping me personally. Our service users often thank me for being there for them, but it should be me thanking them! They have given me a purpose and they have taught me that even if life is hard you can always find a positive. I’ve learnt how to listen without judgement and how to accept the things I can’t change but also how we can change things together.

Big Local gave me all these opportunities and because BigLocalblog_squareof that I wanted to get more involved. I am now in the group of residents that makes decisions about how Big Local funding is spent to improve life for everyone on the estate. Seeing your community grow and knowing you have played a part is something to be proud of.

I would recommend volunteering to anyone. It can be about becoming someone’s friend or laying the foundations for changing someone’s life. You are constantly learning new skills even if at first you don’t realise it.

You don’t think you can volunteer? There’s only one thing you need and that is self-belief. From there, amazing things can happen.”

Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas around England to make their community an even better place to live. The programme gives residents in each area a minimum of £1 million and a range of support for up to 15 years to make a positive difference to their community.

The residents of Scotlands and Bushbury Hill started Big Local in 2012 and they have £1m to spend before 2027. Their priorities include children and young people, crime and safety and health. So far they’ve formed a Charitable Community Benefit Society to lease the local community centre over the next 25 years. This has saved a vital asset from closure and Big Local funding will be used to renovate the centre.

Big Local is managed by Local Trust.

To find volunteering opportunities in your local area visit our Google Map and follow #BigVolunteer on Twitter and Instagram.

Projects

We’re not accepting new applications to list projects on our #BigVolunteer page and map; but you can still list your volunteer opportunity with Do-It.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dawn permalink
    16 January 2016 8:18 am

    Is that the one Ann & Chris used to run??

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