This is Part 5 of the Showcasing-our-Work series of stories of volunteers and non-profits. Introducing Teresa Conway who volunteers at Havin’ a Laugh, Foróige and the NCBI.
Name: Teresa Conway
Where do you volunteer?
I volunteer with Havin’ a Laugh (https://www.havinalaugh.com/) charity, Foróige (https://www.foroige.ie/, youth organisation) and recently NCBI (https://www.ncbi.ie/) working for people with sight loss.
What do your roles involve?
My volunteer role with the Havin’ a Laugh Charity is admin and project management although it didn’t start that way.
My volunteer role with Foróige is club leader for the Tubbercurry Youth Club.
My volunteer role with NCBI is befriender/dog walker. I bring two visually impaired individuals out with their guide dogs so that the dogs can be let off the lead to run and play.
What made you consider volunteering?
My journey with volunteering started organically really.
I was in treatment at the time for mental health-related issues and had been for quite some time. I had received vouchers to do some yoga classes from the Havin’ a Laugh charity who provide life-enhancing activity vouchers to people in mental health recovery. I then attended one of their monthly coffee mornings. I had been going to these coffee mornings for a few months and they needed someone to act as host/greeter to any newcomers. I wanted to help as I had gotten so much already from this charity so I said I would love to do that, which gave me a lot of confidence. From there I began to get to know Bláithín, the founder and gradually began to help out a little more leading to doing more work in admin and project management which I’ve learned from Bláithín. From here I also wanted to explore other things in a sort of networking sense. To gain more skills and to help build more confidence being out and about and meeting new people. This is why I started volunteering with Foróige and more recently with NCBI working for people with sight loss.
Tell us an interesting/surprising thing that came out of your volunteering journey.
The friendships I have made through Havin’ a Laugh. I also took up kayaking through a friend I met while volunteering with Foróige.
I feel l have grown in confidence over the last couple of years from volunteering.
What have you gained from volunteering?
l learned some new skills that would be transferable to many aspects of life. My admin skills have improved and again, meeting new friends. Since starting to volunteer with NCBI last month I also have been enjoying supporting two service users and getting to indulge in playtime with their beautiful dogs which is an absolute pleasure for me as I have always loved dogs. I feel l have grown in confidence over the last couple of years from volunteering.
How did the Volunteer Centre help you?
When I had been volunteering with Havin’ a Laugh for a while I wanted to explore more options and gain more skills so someone suggested looking at the Volunteer Centre and that I could make an appointment to speak with someone. I didn’t really know what else I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to help out a bit more. I made an appointment and met Riona who was so lovely and helped me look at some options. She made a suggestion of Foróige as they were looking for Volunteer Leaders. Riona put me in touch with them and I went from there.
Did you attend any courses run by the Sligo Volunteer Centre?
I did attend a 2-day course at the end of 2019 to do with Charity Governance. I wanted to learn a little more about that side of things and I found it very informative and enjoyable.
If so, how did you find them?
An email was sent to the Havin’ a Laugh charity and I said I would like to attend. The Volunteer Centre is great at keeping volunteers up to date with any upcoming programmes or courses.