Volunteer Guest Blog

Lesley Anne shares her experiences of volunteering with different organisations including Scottish Waterways Trust, Queens Cross Housing Association and Scottish Canals and reveals, in her own words, that “I have truly found my worth through volunteering.”

….It was time for a change and I was really looking forward to sharing some free time efficiently within the environment…

I first came in contact with Rose Daly in 2015. When we met we had a brief chat about what I was particularly interested in. Rose has been the volunteer coordinator at Queens Cross Housing Association for over 10 years. She is really welcoming, down to earth and funny which at the time made me feel more comfortable about becoming a volunteer.  A few days later following our discussion Rose got back to me and offered an initial activity helping with the Lunch Clubs in the area, where me and a fellow volunteer still to this day serve up a 3 course meal to local pensioners once a week. This is where I met Sadie Gordon. Sadie is the utmost dedicated and honest person I know. It has now been a good enjoyable couple of years working with Sadie, she is so encouraging and full of local knowledge and the kind of wisdom that I yearn. Listening to all her stories I got to know more about her and realised the journey of the commitment in participating and her volunteering ventures made her a well respected humble women.

With the Lunch Clubs going well I wanted more – I was always on at Rose eager for more engagement in the area. She gladly kept me inform of events QCHA were having and I happily went along and helped at them. One of my favourites has got to be The Chinese/Robbie Burns yearly event they have! The food is always amazing and I began meeting more people around the area and beyond. Rose helped with gaining all my Disclosures and PVG checks and signed me up on short courses on Equality and Diversity and Volunteer Tutor Training. Now feeling like a proper valued individual, giving my time to others was more rewarding than I first thought! I never knew what was coming next. I have met more memorable genuine people in the last two years than in my whole life! Especially at some of the lovely events I’ve been to, which leads me to my next escapade.

At a meeting I overheard with my radar ears another kind, talented soul in the area talk about his volunteering along at the Maryhill Locks on the Forth and Clyde that year. Bob Alston was enthusiastic about the summer he had bringing the narrow boats and barges up and down the Maryhill Flight of Locks in 2016. Of course it was exciting and was right in amongst it! In spring 2017 I signed up with Love Your Canal Volunteers, participating in the lock-keeping, litter picks, masonry works and other maintenance on the canal. In my element I was overwhelmed when approached by Scottish Waterways Trust for chance to have a paid role as a volunteer supervisor! I couldn’t believe it! I nearly turned it down due to fear, but after challenging myself I was now working the rest of the summer with the Trust.

After a great season with Scottish Waterways Trust my contact ended. I continued my volunteering with QCHA, but I still had an itch for the canal.  So over the winter I went weekly to the yard at Applecross Basin and helped the guys at Scottish Canals working with a great team all over the West and East. Getting new experience and knowledge about the water control on the Forth and Clyde and getting the opportunity to work alongside the water control inspector visiting the dams, reservoirs and lochs. Gritting and salting the bascule bridges and pulling out abandoned trolleys that were dumped in the canal at Clydebank. 2018 approached and we were all looking forward to boating season again as it was a blast last year. Then the unfortunate news that the Nolly was closed for transit due to faulty bridges made me look further afield for some more canal action.

Now I am in my 2nd seasonal job working out of Glasgow with Scottish Canals learning new skills and talents in an outdoor job that I’m extremely enjoying! I can safely say without the beauty of taking the first step into the unknown never would I have guessed that in the space of two and a half years I’d have gained so much enlightenment that allowed me to jump confidently from one venture to another…

….To me it’s not just about giving back the environment but giving back to myself…… I have truly found my worth through volunteering.