Pride in Medway

I feel very privileged to have been a Pride in Medway finalist and last Saturday I attended a gala evening with a fellow SERV Kent volunteer. I didn’t expect to win anything as all the other finalists were just as worthy, if not more so. The evening was fantastic with good food (and wine) and some hugely heart warming stories. I was surprised that we were all given lovely silver photo frames and am still trying to decide which picture I should put in mine. Fortunately, my guest is more adept with a camera than I am so I have a few good ones to choose from. We both started the evening with the obligatory selfie so that one might well make the short list.
We were all presented our frames by the Sangeeta Bhabra from ITV Meridian and Andy Hessenthaler, manager of Gillingham FC. Surprisingly, I wasn’t star struck but did feel a little emotional but managed not to cry.
I would like to say a huge thanks (for the millionth) time to the volunteer coordinator at the University of Kent for my nomination and a huge congratulations to all the winners, very well deserved wins in my opinion.
My volunteering is not done to get myself personal acclaim but as a student at the University, they could only nominate me for the award. As far as I’m concerned, the honour was as much for all my fellow volunteers as it was for me and I hope it gains us as much coverage as possible. If you would like to find out more about what SERV Kent does, have a look at our website and maybe even sign up as a volunteer while you’re there. Please remember that while we are also looking for riders and drivers, we also need people to join us as controllers which is the role I have and thoroughly enjoy.

Something voluntary

My University offer a programme of awards that all students can earn through volunteering. All you need to do to sign up is log the details of the voluntary work you are doing and then log the hours as you do them and as each threshold is reached, you are emailed to congratulate you on getting the award. So far, I have earned the bronze award and am over halfway through the silver. How have I done so well I hear you ask? Easy, I volunteer for SERV Kent as a controller. Now, unless you have heard of them you are probably a little in the dark about what they(we) do. Well, put simply, Monday to Thursday from 7pm until 6am and Friday from 7pm until Monday 6am they collect and deliver blood supplies to and from local hospitals. You can read a much better description on the website.

The runs are ordinarily done by motorbike unless the temperature dips too low for the products being transported, cars are then used. Every volunteer rider/driver uses their own vehicle and fuel for these runs as well as giving up the chance for a full night’s sleep in a cosy bed.

I’m not in possession of any wheels except for my mountain bike so I take the calls from the hospitals and task the riders from there. It is as responsible a role as the riders, after all if there was no controller, they wouldn’t have any runs allocated to them!

At this point I feel that I should make it clear that I do not do this for extra credits on my degree although that is a bonus! I do this because it is something extremely important and the way SERV operates makes it cheaper and I am sure, quicker, for the hospitals to get the products they need. I am doing the day shifts this weekend which means I am on duty from 6am until 7pm both days, my bank balance loves it as does the housework that I do with one ear listening for the phone!

It really is an amazing feeling when the first rider you have sent out texts you back to say their run is complete. I was extremely nervous on my first call until I heard back from the rider, I calmed down loads when I got that text! Now, I would love for there to be hundreds of you rushing to volunteer with SERV either in Kent or your local area but I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are in a position to give it a try, voluntary work of any sort is very rewarding. See what you can find in your local area and give it a try. I chose SERV as it is an amazing service and I can do it from home which as I occasionally feel the need to hide indoors when my depression gets to me, I can still volunteer and feel useful without forcing myself outside my safe front door.

So, look up your local volunteer agency, most councils have them and give it a try and if you approach SERV Kent, be prepared to meet and speak to some amazing people.