My Volunteering Story – Sheila
1) How long have you been volunteering at Grimm & Co and why did you start volunteering with us?
I have been volunteering with Grimm & Co for 8 years, since September 2012. It all started because my bus stop was right outside the original pop up story shop (back when Grimm & Co was Inspire Rotherham). The shop always had wonderful, weird window dressing and my granddaughter would ask me, “What is that shop selling?”, but the shop was always closed. One day I got to the bus stop and the shop door was ajar. I went in and Deborah was there, and she explained what she was setting up – she told me all about Inspire Rotherham. I was retired by that point and my grandkids were in school so I was at a loss; I really agreed with the vision to get kids involved with reading and writing so I decided to volunteer. At one point I was doing up to 15 or 16 hours a week!
2) What area do you usually volunteer in?
I’m a story mentor and I’ve also been out on the road with Grimm.
3) What’s the best thing about volunteering with Grimm & Co?
Seeing the realisation on children’s faces that they can write a story. Everyone can be a writer because the story is in their head and no-one can tell them it’s wrong. You see the children grow as they realise this.
4) How has volunteering with Grimm & Co helped you?
It’s filled my idle time! I’ve loved being with the little’uns, as I call them. I’ve loved feeling useful, and like the time I give to Grimm is not wasted time. I feel like volunteering means that my life experience is not lost. And of course seeing the children’s faces is wonderful.
5) What’s a lesser known fact about you?
I’ve been on fire! I was 6 at the time and had been a bridesmaid at my auntie and uncle’s wedding. I put my bridesmaid’s dress again on a few days later just to wear round the house. I walked past the coal fire and as I did someone came in through the kitchen door; the draft blew the dress onto the fire, it caught and the netting and lace went up in flames. My mum saw the flames, pushed me back on the floor and
wrapped the rug round me. It means I always remember health & safety now!
6) Why would you recommend volunteering at Grimm & Co to others?
It brings you such joy. At our age we’ve got experience with kids but we miss the interaction with younger kids – we don’t feel as needed by our families and we miss the small connections and ways we can bond with younger children. Volunteering with Grimm keeps you young! I’d recommend it to any older people.
7) What myths about volunteering would you like to debunk?
Somewhere like Grimm & Co, a writing charity, people think you have to be really clever to volunteer there. You don’t have to be Einstein! You just have to have life knowledge; you have experienced things that others haven’t – as older people we’ve experienced hardship but have a richness of history to pass on to children. We have a richness of family and life experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re bad at spelling or your English isn’t perfect! Your manner and the connections you make are more important.