I began volunteering with Aspire in Oct 2018 at the Birkby Croft group. I already knew Susanna Shotter through church & she texted one day to say that her volunteer couldn’t make the session so asked if I could help by coming to make the cups of tea. It was completely out of my comfort zone. As has happened for a few of us, I stayed on!
I’ve been a trustee since December 2019 - As a teacher & a school governor, I felt that I had something to be able to offer. I am now Chair of Trustees & volunteer regularly with the Birkby Croft & Sandy Mount groups. I love being with people, sharing life & a cuppa. The best thing about the crafting sessions is that if it all goes wrong it doesn’t matter - it’s the process not the product. My favourite craft is the wet felting as you can keep talking whilst you do it.
The charity isn’t unique in that others have similar aims of reducing isolation, however Aspire is unique in the way that we do it. It is so diverse in what is offered, even if there is a week when someone doesn’t enjoy what we are doing, we can say ‘Come back next week & try something different’. I believe that the best part of Aspire is the forming of friendships. At a time when connections may end, it is really important to be able to come & form new relationships with others.
Anyone could volunteer with Aspire whatever skills you do or don’t have. If you can remember how someone takes their cup of tea, you can make someone feel valued & treated as an individual. These little things are the difference between a friendship and a purely professional relationship.
This last year has been a steep learning curve - full of productive growth & establishing for the charity & but also heartbreaking at times when difficult decisions have needed to be made like closing the sessions during lockdown knowing that they were the highlight of the Aspire member’s weeks. Aspire has been so creative over the last 12 months. The easy option would have been just to close completely, however everyone involved with Aspire is concerned for people. It’s not just a job, love for people has driven the different projects which have been running - Monthly Craft & Wellbeing Bags, Weekly Telephone Support Calls, Creating Connections Tablet Project. People are at the heart of it all.
Karina Gledhill, Chair of Trustees