Balancing kids, work and volunteering

I volunteered, many years ago, then kids came along and there didn’t seem to be much spare time anymore. As the kids grew up, I’d got into the habit of work filling the time available, so I still didn’t seem to have a lot of time. It was after the covid lockdowns that I realised that I did have time, I just needed to organise myself better and remember what I got out of volunteering. 

 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do; I knew regular weekly slots was best for me rather than ad-hoc. I also knew I’d prefer something that got me out of the house. I’d heard of Anstee Bridge previously and been to a couple of their ‘tea parties’ so when I saw them asking for volunteers on Volunteering Kingston, I got in touch with the project manager, Katherine. 

She and Laura were warm and welcoming from the start and always immensely thankful to all their volunteers. Anstee Bridge works with teenagers who have social, emotional and mental health issues. They are referred by their school and usually attend one or half a day a week to do creative workshops. 

I go in for half a day a week and stay with the same young people for the year. I get to know them and see them bloom as their self-esteem increases, and I get to take part in great workshops like candle making, circus skills and painting. I have the simple role of making these fantastic, but troubled, youngsters feel good about themselves through learning new skills in a safe environment. I am well supported by the staff if there are concerns, but that is rare.  

I really enjoy volunteering at Anstee Bridge. I know I help the young people, but I also help myself by giving myself time away from work emails and stresses of general life. When I’m there, it’s not about me or my worries, so they drift away for a few hours, and I feel better at the end of it. 

I’ve also worked with others to start a charity – Friends of Anstee Bridge – to help raise funds for the projects and artists Anstee Bridge use to help the young people. As the chair of trustees, I can say that trustee volunteers work so hard, but it is also rewarding. It suits me to be involved in both, but whoever you are giving time to you will get so much in return. 


Liz Green, Volunteer in Kingston 

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