Time To Pay Forward

I feel blessed that I have found my true vocation, being a civil celebrant in Suffolk, Norfolk and London is truly an honour and a privilege. It truly does not seem like work. I know this to be true, as I have had jobs that did.

Whatever job I have done I have always had a little side hustle. It never made any money, but I had the opportunity to gain experience and a true zest for life. As you have guessed I have always worked as a volunteer so I can pay forward into my local community.

I have had many volunteer roles. My first ever voluntary job was when I was 13, where I supported a summer scheme for young people with special needs. I was only supposed to be there for a week, but I attended all 6 weeks of the summer holiday.

My next role was as an assistant youth worker in a youth provision for young people with special needs, where I wrote and directed many shows, including Little Red Riding Hood. This led to me completing a (BA) Hons degree in Community and Youth Studies. This changed my life as I found a career that I loved.

In 2010 I was made redundant from Norfolk County Council and my husband and I took over a pub and hotel - one of the jobs that was tricky. While there we set up a voluntary youth provision in the building where the councils had run a youth before closing it. We didn't just run the provision but managed the building and find funding. Sadly the funding ran out and we had to close it.

After coming out of the pub, I still felt the need to volunteer. I was involved in a number of events in the recovery community, compereing them and giving sessions on confidence building and public speaking.

From 2013 to 2018 it was my privilege to be on the steering committee for Open Christmas Great Yarmouth. I had the joy of developing and delivering the entertainment for all of the lovely people who attended those events on Christmas Day.

I love to cook, and in the winter of 2019, I made soup and sandwiches and gave support people who were homeless. Once a week we went into Lowestoft to offer food and friendship.

As a funeral celebrant, I know how families suffer with grief and all of the associated feelings, so I wanted my next volunteering role to be supporting families in having compassionate conversations. Last year I began working with St Elizabeth Hospice delivering awareness enabling people to talk with and comfort people experiencing end-of-life, loss, or bereavement. It is often a daunting prospect - but it needn't be that way.

It aims to help people (aged 18+) build the skills and confidence to enable open, honest and sensitive conversations around end-of-life, loss and bereavement while identifying ways to help and support others. This includes:

· Breaking down taboos and myths about death and dying

· Thinking about how we can have compassionate conversations

· How taking the time to lend a helping hand or a friendly ear can make a difference

· Identifying support services available for those experiencing end-of-life, loss and bereavement.

I deliver an average of two sessions a month. As with all of my voluntary work, it is an honour to support those in my local community and beyond.

I have the opportunity to make a real difference. If you are thinking about volunteering, I would say just go for it.

I have found that I have always gained as much, if not more, than those who I am supporting.