As we approach National Volunteers’ Week at the beginning of June, here at Strode Park Foundation we are looking forward to celebrating the amazing work that our many volunteers do on a daily basis.

We have around 160 volunteers working with us at present in a variety of roles. These can be anything ranging from helping with activities, befriending residents, gardening and working in our charity shops, to assisting at our onsite venue, Theatre in the Park. There is always something that someone can do to help out.

As a charity, we obviously benefit greatly from all of the hours of hard work that our volunteers put in. As we have mentioned before however, volunteering can also be an extremely rewarding activity for the volunteer in question and this cannot be summed up any better than in the story of one of our much-loved volunteers in our fundraising department – Colin.

Strode Park Foundation: Celebrating Volunteers Week
Kent Police Male Voice Choir cheque presentation

“On 16 December 2010, my life changed. I was out with work friends that evening getting into the Christmas spirit when I had a cardiac arrest. Luckily a passing police officer recognised this and kept me alive doing CPR until the paramedics arrived. Surgery was required and after several weeks in a coma, it was discovered that unfortunately, I had also suffered a hypoxic brain injury (stroke).

“Cardiac rehabilitation was required for some time, followed by Neuro rehabilitating. After many tests and sessions with a Clinical neurologist and the Outreach team, I was diagnosed as cognitively impaired. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work I did, I was unable to return to my job as a well-respected Head Art Buyer in a London Advertising and Marketing agency.

“After a few years recovering, I started to do a few hours a week volunteering in a charity shop which started to rebuild my confidence. However, my job had involved commissioning photographers and illustrators, arranging photo shoots and events all around the world and I was still finding it hard that I had to leave it all. I then joined Strode Park Foundation as a volunteer in the Fundraising department doing a couple of mornings a week – helping with events amongst other duties.

“I wasn’t in a good place when I joined but they really took me under their wing and made me feel wanted and to have a purpose again. Volunteering here has finally helped me to accept that I can’t go back to the job I loved and this has helped me move on. I still struggle with some things but have learnt how to deal with them. I have been very lucky.

“If the paramedics had arrived a few seconds later that night, I could have ended up needing the services offered by Strode Park Foundation myself or worse, not be telling this story at all. Now it gives me great pleasure to be helping all the residents and service users at Strode Park. I’m giving something back and I feel grateful that I am making a difference again.”

Strode Park Foundation: Celebrating Volunteers Week
Chicken Run 2019

Colin has now been volunteering within Fundraising at Strode Park Foundation for around five years. He is considered to be a valued member of the team and has even been the inspiration behind many of the events that have been held over the past few years (most notably our now infamous ‘Chicken Run’ 5K run!).

Volunteers such as Colin really do make the difference and we at Strode Park Foundation are truly grateful for all that they do.

(Written by Christina Jones, Fundraiser at Strode Park Foundation)