Post | June 2023 | Volunteer Stories | 2 min read

"I think often people feel that they don't have any qualifications or skills to offer, but often that's not what is needed. It is simply time and willingness to try that is appreciated"

Written by GoVol Herts

Meet Jenny, volunteer for Penniwells Riding for the Disabled and Garden Manager at the Random Cafe.

What volunteer role do you do and why did you start volunteering?

Currently I volunteer for Penniwells Riding for the Disabled and i am the volunteer garden manager at the Random Cafe. My first experience of volunteering was through my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award age 15. I started volunteering with Riding for the Disabled in 2010 as a way to start leaving the house following a period of agoraphobia and anorexia. I have found a Riding for the Disabled Group wherever I have been staying/living in the country since then. Penniwells Riding for the Disabled is my 4th group. I joined them while I was in a mental health hospital nearby. It helped me with my mental health recovery and gave be a reason to work towards keeping my leave from the unit each week. It was also the reason I stayed in the area when I was discharged from hospital.


How you make a difference? 

In my current roles I am able to help care for the horses and ensure they are ready for our riders. I then help support the riders during their lessons whether that be so they can benefit for their mental health, physical health or both. Some riders require a team of three volunteers per lesson to assist them. Some of the extra events and competitions require extra help, whether it be costume making in advance or an extra pair of hands on the day. At the Random Cafe I manage a team of volunteers who assist me in keeping the gardens tidy and organised so we can grow plants and crops to sell to raise funds that go back into the project. I also build garden items such as planters out of reclaimed wood, which are also sold to fund the project. Not only is this saving materials from landfill but it is encouraging others to grow their own to help the environment.


Why would you recommend volunteering to others?

I sometimes feel slightly selfish in why I volunteer because although it does help benefit other individuals and the community as a whole, I know how much it has increased my confidence and helped keep my mental health well and more stable. 

I think often people feel that they don't have any qualifications or skills to offer, but often that's not what is needed. It is simply time and willingness to try that is appreciated. There are two mottos I think volunteering sits well with; firstly the RDA motto "Its what you can do that counts" and secondly Tescos "Every little helps"

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