Next week (1 – 7 June) is Volunteers’ Week; an annual event celebrating the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. Here at Outside In, we are extremely grateful for the time and support of our dedicated volunteers. As it’s Volunteers’ Week, we wanted to celebrate the work of our volunteers and ask them about their experience of volunteering with us.
“As a Volunteer Room Steward for Pallant House Gallery I saw a flyer about two years ago for volunteers to work with Outside In, helping with administrative tasks. As a retired office worker, I was keen to use my skills and to support a dynamic organisation that encouraged creativity.
One of my main ongoing tasks is to contact artists (either by email or letter) who display their work on the Outside In website and who have recently had a comment made by someone about their work. It is very rewarding for me when the artist responds and says how much it meant to them to receive recognition of their artistic talents. I can imagine being an artist, especially one in marginalised circumstances, is very isolating so I am pleased to be able to show them the interest and feedback that their work is generating.”
“So you have decided to volunteer and have probably been prompted by the desire to do something useful, share your expertise and knowledge, give something back or simply get out of the house. These are all valid and very normal motivators for volunteering, but here is another side to it and that is: what can volunteering give me? Outside In has given me a huge amount of pleasure over the period in which I have been associated with it. My taste in art before becoming involved was quite predictable, safe and the stuff of museums. However, coming close to the art and artists during the 2013 National exhibition and working with hundreds of images on the website, I have been immersed in an alternative pool of creativity and talent. Sometimes knowing the background of the artist enhances this experience and sometimes it is immaterial. There is so much variety that there is bound to be something that grabs you. The journey is further enhanced by the enthusiasm of Jennie, whose encyclopeadic knowledge of the Outside In artists is awesome. My life is richer for it and my walls bear the signs of the beginnings of a small collection.”
“Although I am very new to volunteering with Outside In, I am already feeling involved and excited to be part of such an amazing and inclusive scheme.
I initially heard about the project when Artist Coordinator Hannah Whitlock gave a presentation at college where I am studying a Fine Art Degree. I am due to graduate in June and hopefully will have more time to commit to volunteering.
I have invigilated at the Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Centre where Outside In was showing selected artists work as part of Brighton’s Artists Open Houses. I had a go at sewing a wish on the wishing chair, and meeting visitors on the art trail.
I am looking forward to upcoming Surgery Days where we will assist new members to join the project and showcase their work online.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to meet new people and gain valuable skills.”
“I’m not sure where I would be in life if it wasn’t for volunteering. Due to many difficult circumstances as a teenager, I left school with very few qualifications and the future looked a bit bleak. However, when I was nineteen, I came across an advert for an organisation called C.S.V, (Community Service Volunteers) in the back of the Big Issue magazine.
I joined up with C.S.V and ended up in a completely different part of the country working in the disability services office of a university where I offered practical support to the students who lived on campus. To be honest, at times I felt completely thrown in the deep end and was often overwhelmed with crippling self-doubt. However, I was able to stick it out and discovered many deeply buried skills and attributes in myself which over time, I have developed and used to build a self-made life, rich in experiences and opportunities. It is far more than I could ever have envisioned for myself during those bleak teenage years.
Over seventeen years later, I still value volunteering. I regularly volunteer my time with a Buddhist organisation to which I belong, and more recently have started volunteering with Outside In. I still encounter unfamiliar and personally challenging situations and I still find more buried treasures in myself. You see, you really can’t give and not get in situations like this, and in this sort of treasure hunt, you can never lose what you have found.”
“I have recently started volunteering for the project in between studying for the BA Fine Art at Northbrook College. After Artist Co-ordinator Hannah Whitlock gave a talk at the college, I was really interested in becoming involved with Outside In because the aims of the project are inclusive, encouraging and supportive. I’ve been lucky, my degree tutors and peers have supported and inspired me but it took me a long time to build up the confidence to even apply to study art. Not everyone has that access and it makes such a huge difference, I think that’s why I wanted to volunteer because I’ve been there myself and I’d like to help others in return.
Through volunteering I’ve found out more about the project and met new people, invigilated at the Wellbeing Centre during Brighton’s Artists Open Houses and helped out in the office. I’m really looking forward to being more involved with the project after I graduate in June.”