“If I could afford to, I would volunteer all the time,” Ann Brown says.
The Dundee University student volunteer co-ordinator not only connects other people with opportunities to help, but also spends time with five different organisations herself.
BeFriends, Scouts, Rainbows, and Dementia Dogs all enjoy her support.
And she still manages to find time to work as a volunteer usher at the Whitehall Theatre.
“For me,” Ann said, “when I was growing up I was involved in voluntary organisations and I just wanted to carry on doing that.
“People gave their time to me and now I want to give that time back.
“I think there is nothing better than the buzz you get when you’ve been with somebody – and it could be something really simple, and it’s made their day. I just love it.
“If I could afford to, I would volunteer all the time – it lifts my spirits.
“I know that if I’m away to do my volunteering, I’m away to forget about everything else that’s going wrong in the world.
“So you go, do your volunteering and you’ve made a difference to somebody else, but you’ve actually made a difference to yourself as well.”
Working with children
In her work with BeFriends, Ann helps out young people who maybe need a bit of extra support.
“I’ve been with BeFriends for about 12 years.
“I’ve always done one-to-one befriending with different children.
“I’m on my fourth child now. I’ve been with her since she was five and she’s now 13.
“Some of them have obviously got family issues, some of them have their own issues and it’s just about building their confidence to go out and do things.
“There is a lot of anxiety in younger people as well, really affecting their mental health.
“We don’t really do anything exciting – just stuff they want that gives them that space which is their time.
“They can be from a busy family where they’re overlooked, certainly the ones I’ve had in the past that’s been the case.
“It’s just to give them somebody who is there just for them, to listen to them, to get them a bit out of their comfort zone.
“The first boy I was with, he was the only boy in the family and he was isolated because of that. The girls got lots of treats and he didn’t.
“Or simple things like he had never seen a cow or a horse. So we went over to the Deer Centre and he was amazed at those things – just things we take for granted.”
Giving back to the community
Ann continued: “I also volunteer for a charity called the Dementia Dog Project, which was just piloted in Scotland.
“We board some dogs as well, who come and stay with you while it’s being trained – a bit like Guide Dogs.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the dogs going on to the people they’re going on to help and still keep in regular contact. I’ve done fundraising with them too.”
Ann started at the Rainbows for “just a few weeks” after they put out a plea for volunteers.
“Six years later, I’m still there,” she said laughing.
She added: “Most people don’t realise what you get back from it.
“It’s so good, I love the thought of just being out and helping people for a while.
“If people just take that step to go and help somewhere, they’ll make a whole new batch of friends.
“With dementia dogs, I’ve got a whole new family there.
“And doing things with children just makes you young.
“When you get older you don’t very often get the chance to be silly and play on swings and do silly things like that – which I love.”
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