Helen, a local mum who volunteers in Pevensey and Eastbourne

People volunteer for many reasons, for Helen it was an opportunity to get out of the house and meet people while at the same time doing something good for her community.

Helen had been a single foster parent for over ten years, and during that time had become quite isolated.

“I had close friends and family, but felt disconnected from the community around me. I had also lost confidence and became quite anxious in social settings.”

It all started when Helen came to Green Café evening for people with an interest in local environmental issues. “I was terrified and sure no one would talk to me. I sat on a table in the corner and I’d taken a book with me to hide behind if I needed it!

Within minutes of arriving though, I was made very welcome. I ended up sitting with a group of people who had shared interests with me, and five years later many of them are still my friends.”

That night Helen became involved in a local group. She attended committee meetings, got stuck in with local environmental projects and hasn’t looked back.

What have you got from volunteering?

“I have a wide circle of friends now, and in my volunteer’s role at the Eastbourne Volunteers community hub I feel like I also have a second family.“ Helen has helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for her community, planted trees, driven a community bus, dressed up in crazy outfits to promote good causes and had a lot of fun.

Helen acknowledges that she has done a lot of good over the years, but she quickly adds:

“I have also benefit ed from volunteering. I no longer feel alone and my confidence has improved massively. I still get nervous, but I have even given talks to other groups now, something I couldn’t imagine ever doing before. My children have attended many events with me and had a lot of fun too. I hope because of the volunteering I do, they are growing up with a better understanding of the world around them, and a drive to make things better like their Mum!”