Recently I was asked to help with admin tasks on the Book Bunk project. Glasgow Women’s Library is sharing its experience and knowledge with this, equally fantastic, organisation which is reviving 3 libraries in Nairobi. Sitting in on the Skype calls has been enlightening and made me think about why I volunteer and the question was asked by Book Bunk “How do you keep your volunteers coming back?” I listened to Gabrielle, Volunteer Coordinator, give lovely insights, from her vast experience, into why the GWL had such a dedicated and consistent volunteer program.
“How do you keep your volunteers coming back?”
I found myself reflecting on this question in relation to my experience, why I loved coming to the library and not only that but why I wanted to always say yes to every opportunity offered to me even when I knew I should be as focused on finding myself a job. From day one I felt so much part of the team, never nervous or awkward as everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. A warm welcome at GWL is promoted and encouraged it is never forced or overwhelming, it’s there even in the smallest of gestures whether that is an offer of a cup of tea or help with a task. It always, for me, comes back to the generosity of everyone I have encountered whether that is the staff, other volunteers or the communities who use the library. It is the sharing of information, experience and time that have been so subtle but makes such a difference. The generosity comes in many forms, time spent listening to each other, everyone having an equal and valued voice, and always encouraging never critical. Feeling valued for the small part I play in GWL is the core of this organisation and this has given me the confidence to be more than I thought I could be and to try different experiences, which previously, I would not have attempted.
I find I’m more positive and open, so I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me to volunteer at the GWL and it will always be part of my life because anything this empowering should be treasured.
Volunteering in the Glasgow Women’s Library has been an inspiring and uplifting time for me when lots of unsettling changes were happening in my life. It has given me a focus and purpose to realise that there is more to life than going through the motions and that when I enjoy going to a place with a nurturing and encouraging environment then this brings the best out in me. I find I’m more positive and open, so I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me to volunteer at the GWL and it will always be part of my life because anything this empowering should be treasured.
The Book Bunk partnership is made possible with thanks to the British Council.