"People don't realise they're actually helping me by asking for my help. Also, you never know what someone is dealing with in their life"
Meet Kai Zakaria, Staying Connected Coordinator for North Herts & Stevenage CVS & Volunteer at Stevenage Central Library.
1.What volunteer role do you do, and why did you start volunteering?
I caught the volunteering bug in 2008, doing odd jobs for a charitable plant nursery and then website admin for a new secondary school in Zambia. Currently, I volunteer at Stevenage Central Library as an IT Champion answering queries mostly from users of the two computer suites. I started nine years ago during a long period of illness and unemployment. I needed something to build my confidence, create a routine, and challenge myself.
2. How do you make a difference?
I've always had difficulty asking for help. I don't want anyone to feel belittled, stressed or intimidated when they overcome the barrier to asking for help. I have learning difficulties, and I get a huge lift when people realise they can learn despite their fears or other people's opinions of them. It’s magical watching someone grow in confidence! I hope people feel glad they took a risk and pushed through their worry/pride long enough to ask for help. Maybe they'll take the risk again in another area of their life; who knows? People don't realise they're actually helping me by asking for my help. Also, you never know what someone is dealing with in their life. It's my duty to help others feel less isolated in the few minutes they spend with me. You never know how long it has been since someone connected. It's a basic human need even for neurodivergent people like me. The lockdowns showed us all how much we need connection.
3. Why would you recommend volunteering to others?
Mood and cognitive boosting effects. I always feel great after volunteering
Strengthens my social skills.
becoming less introverted and inward-looking.
Long-lasting effects on my self-esteem
Grows my problem-solving abilities
I meet people I would never have crossed paths with
Alleviates loneliness, and it might just make you smile. Or laugh.
Has brought me employment opportunities, new acquaintances and friends
I learn to appreciate people who are different to me rather than fear them.
An antidote to news and current affairs.
An antidote to my natural selfishness!
Revenge for all the consideration and kindness thrown at me over the years.