Volunteering opens up a new world

NEW SKILLS Portsmouth Libraries volunteers Grace Benjamin, left, and Lynn Rix ''                                        Picture: Chloe Ellis
NEW SKILLS Portsmouth Libraries volunteers Grace Benjamin, left, and Lynn Rix '' Picture: Chloe Ellis
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Chloe Ellis, from Portsmouth Together, talks about two volunteers at Portsmouth Libraries

However, it is not always easy to try something new. Approaching an organisation and stepping outside of your comfort zone can be very daunting.

Grace Benjamin began as a volunteer at Portsmouth Libraries two years ago following a placement through The Beneficial Foundation, which helps to provide people with education and training and progress to find employment.

Grace said: ‘The opportunity was first suggested to me by someone from The Beneficial Foundation. I decided I wanted to volunteer to gain more skills and boost my CV to help me get a paid job in the future.’

At first there were a lot of new things for Grace to learn, including how to shelve according to the libraries’ current system.

As well as this Grace had to adapt to the new role and colleagues.

It was Lynn Rix, another of the Portsmouth Libraries volunteers, who stepped in to support Grace at the beginning.

Grace said: ‘At first I found the new role challenging but I soon got the hang of it and have now been volunteering at the library for 30 months. It is something I enjoy and it interests me.’

Lynn and Grace volunteer on the same shift at the library and their partnership has been invaluable to the library service.

Throughout her time volunteering Grace has acquired a great deal of experience and knowledge that she, in turn, can share.

This is a great example of two of the reasons many people volunteer – to try new things and learn a new skill that will help build their resumé, or because of the knowledge and experiences that they have acquired and wish to share and give back.

The volunteers make a difference to all of the visitors at the library and can take pride in the role they deliver.

Volunteers keep the library tidy and presentable, help users with enquiries and using the computer facilities, and support library staff with activities and events for different ages.

Volunteering has helped Grace to become a lot more confident, making strong friendships and being involved in something worth doing. She is now happy to help any of the visitors to the library with their queries.

Would you like to become a volunteer? You can search for opportunities from over 100 organisations at volunteer.portsmouth.gov.uk.