Why I volunteer for the Attic Project

Volunteering is done for a multitude of reasons. Some do it because it looks good on their CV, others dream of a Knighthood or need to have something to do during unemployment or retirement but for me volunteering is all about meeting people and getting to know them, if only a little bit. I manage to combine all my favourite things, talking, listening, photography and writing because I am part of the Reminiscence Project.

It is my delight to visit our participants in their own homes where I record their memories. It can be a chipped vase that they have inherited from a favourite aunt or uncle or a photo from a long-ago holiday which evokes memories of times past. Their tales range from the small, to the tall, to the fascinating.

As we chat, usually supping a cup of tea, the memories come forth sometimes easily, other times with a little prodding but always they bring a smile to their lips and lightens their day by sharing the love of people and things that have been in their lives.

So often, people think that there’s nothing special about them or their life but they are always wrong. Everyone has a least one thing in their life which is extraordinary – they just don’t realise it. What you may see as mundane and of no importance, to others can seem exotic. Like the land-locked townie listening to stories about people living in coastal towns where sailing is common place to country folk listening to the townie tales of high-rise flats and skate board parks – It’s all according to your life experiences.

Some only take a single visit to find those gold nuggets, whilst others can take three or four visits because it’s a veritable gold mine of interesting stories. I always consider this the best part of the job, even without the tea and biscuits.

The harder part is the keep-sake (a small book) of their tales. This is the part where the work comes in. Taking all the tales and meshing them into a book that they can hold on to and read to remind themselves of all the good times in their lives so that once more it can raise that smile of reminiscence. That is what gives me the most pleasure and why I always say that volunteering can and is as much for the volunteer as it is for those we help.