Judith's Story

Judith's Story

Interview with Judith Meyrick, volunteer in the Finance Team

By Helen Inglis

 

“It’s a great place to volunteer and I couldn’t do without it.”

 

When I spoke to Judith, she spoke movingly about how volunteering for Alabaré had changed her life. As well as providing her with regular human contact and a role within a supportive team, she can provide a vital service for a charity supporting those who are homeless and vulnerable – a cause which, as she says, is often not seen as ‘sexy’.

 

How did you first get involved with Alabaré?

In 2010 I was having problems with my back and the physio recommended gardening. I started volunteering at the garden centre at Old Sarum, which at the time was run by the Shaw Trust. After a short break and following a chance encounter with a member of staff, I returned in 2014 as a volunteer in the Fund-Raising team. At the time they were keen to increase participation in the Big Sleep event at Salisbury Cathedral and although I don’t see myself as a natural fund-raiser, I agreed to help on the admin side. It involved liaising with the Cathedral, contacting the press, keeping records. I was also there to help on the night, which was an experience, but not one I would do again! I was contributing to the team and it helped the staff, but as my strength lies in admin, I didn’t enjoy the fundraising side.

Fundraising for Alabaré is hard! People don’t see what goes on in the homes and at the Drop-In centres and the difference that we make to individuals. They don’t hear the stories of how we give people the support they need and how that will enable them to move on to become more settled and employed.

 

What do you do now?

For some years now I have worked in the Finance Department at Head Office in Salisbury. I volunteer two days every week, logging the money that comes in, recording donors, keeping databases up to date and coding the donations. Some money is easily identifiable, and some involves greater investigation to establish who it is from and what it is for. I also liaise with some of the clients who need to pay for services, some directly and some indirectly, and the relationships I have with them helps ensure that everything is accountable, and I try to identify potential problems of debt and confusion before they arise. It is meticulous and sometimes complicated work, and it suits my skillset perfectly!

 

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

For me it is a vital job to do and working with the team in Finance means that my regular volunteering is providing a vital service to Alabaré. I am always busy, and I must use my brain! It is also of huge benefit to the charity. So, it is fulfilling for me and useful for the organisation. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from what I do, and I save the staff a lot of time. I am also able to solve problems for some of the clients who struggle with their finances which is hugely satisfying.

For me, being in the office where I can see people provide human contact, which is an absolute lifesaver. It’s a great place to volunteer and I couldn’t do without it. When I joined the Finance team, I realised that I had found my niche and I wouldn’t change it. I have my space and a really supportive team. They treat me as if I was a paid member of staff.

 

Why should people volunteer for Alabaré?

Everyone at Alabaré is so appreciative of the contribution that volunteers make that I really feel a valued part of the team. I would say that if you are going to give your time for free, you must feel loyalty to the organisation. Once you find your place, you get a huge amount out of it and your contribution is really valued, acknowledged, and recognised, however small you may feel it is.

Alabaré provides a home for those who are homeless and vulnerable, and the support on offer means they do not feel on their own. It’s not a ‘sexy’ charity, but there is a huge need and Alabaré is doing a great job providing homes and services to those who need such vital support.

It took me a couple of goes before I found the perfect role for me, but I truly believe in what Alabaré does and so I love giving my time as a volunteer for an organisation that is doing such great work.

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