Tomorrow is the first day of the Manchester International Festival as it kicks off with a host of performances ranging from visual shows, musicals to choirs.
Four hundred volunteers have been recruited to make sure that the festival runs as smoothly as possible, and one of those volunteers happens to be me.
Volunteers come in a variety of backgrounds, ages and gender. It’s not the retired person with time on their hands who act as volunteers anymore.
You see a lot of people think that we’re mad. Working full-time in a very busy job and then volunteering on top of that – why would you do that if you’re not getting paid?
Maybe I am mad.
I’m not only volunteering at the festival, but I have been a volunteer at my local community radio station for nearly two years now too.
Have I not got enough to do? When do I find the time? Why would I possibly do anything extra unless I was getting paid for it?
I’ll tell you why.
Volunteering has given me the chance to learn skills that I never knew I possessed, meet some extraordinary people and be part of something. It has also given me an increase in self-confidence and there’s something rather satisfying about giving back to the community where you live.
Years ago I lacked the confidence to talk to people and walked out of a new job as soon as I realised that the expectation was that I had to talk in a group situation. Now on a weekly basis I host my own show live on the radio and internet http://www.wfmradio.org speaking to many people. I speak in large groups (not very well) but I do it.
That would never have been possible before I became a volunteer at the radio station.
I’ve interviewed local artists, bands, actors, directors and many other interesting and talented people. Again, only possible through the volunteering I do.
One things for sure, I certainly don’t get to do things like that in the day job.
I’m looking forward to my first shift as a Manchester International Festival volunteer. Hopefully if the weather is shining, I’ll get to meet some very interesting characters in Albert Square and there’s even the chance to dust off the sign language as I look after a children’s choir as they sing along to Mr Tumble.