“When I finally got to start on a project I was pleased to find that it was very local and that I would be supporting children and families in my neighbourhood. This is important to me because I’m aware that I could be considered as living in a ‘bubble’ and although the families I visit are geographically very close, our lives otherwise rarely intersect.”
I have been passionate about reading since I was very small and some of my happiest memories are of bedtime stories, first being read to me and then reading them to my parents. This love of reading continued and I studied English Literature at A-level and then at university. I thought I’d end up as a journalist but in fact, my career began in consumer marketing so I got my book fix through joining book clubs and then starting one of my own! I’m fortunate that my own children also love books and reading, and the early years of bedtime stories with them was a real delight.
Why did I want to volunteer with Doorstep Library?
I first heard about Doorstep Library when I lived in West London and my children were very young. However, my demanding job, moving abroad, returning and living in a different area meant that I never quite followed up on my volunteering idea. Then Covid came, the children got older and I realized that I had the time to devote to a cause which is close to my heart. I come from a family where books have always been part of our lives but sadly this is not the case for many children today. I wanted to share my love of stories and in a small way be part of a charity that really makes a difference to the lives of children and their families.
I did my research and applied to join Doorstep Library as a Home Reading Volunteer. The induction process was very thorough with the necessary safeguarding checks and several training sessions. At the time Covid, although waning, was still present so much of this was done online. When I finally got to start on a project I was pleased to find that it was very local and that I would be supporting children and families in my neighbourhood. This is important to me because I’m aware that I could be considered as living in a ‘bubble’ and although the families I visit are geographically very close, our lives otherwise rarely intersect. Through my regular visits, I now feel much more engaged with my wider community and have a deeper understanding of the daily issues affecting ‘my families’ and how I can pass on information about organisations that could help them.
How has my volunteering experience been so far?
I have now volunteered with Doorstep Library for over a year and the training and support have been excellent. Through training sessions, I’ve learnt more about how to help children who are on the autistic spectrum and how to choose books that will particularly resonate with the children I see. I’m always happy when the children enjoy a book that I particularly like but even more so when they love a book that really ‘speaks’ to them. I also really enjoy watching the children improve as readers and hearing from the parents that they are doing well at school.
What has been my favourite moment?
One of the highlights during my volunteering time was when we had been visiting a family with two girls who were very shy and didn’t really want to read (or be read to). Every week we kept bringing books we thought might appeal but still didn’t get as much engagement as we hoped for. Then one week, everything changed! The girls showed us their gymnastics routine, wanted to read from one of the books we had brought and eagerly chose the next set of books. I’m still not sure what made the sudden difference but it did teach me to always keep trying as you never know what might happen next.
Would I recommend volunteering with Doorstep Library?
If you can spare a few hours a week I would highly recommend getting involved in your local Doorstep Library project. You will feel more connected to the families in your area and be able to share with them your enthusiasm not only for reading but also for the neighbourhood library, park, swimming pool etc. I’ve even had detailed conversations about my favourite bus route! You might see families whose circumstances are very different to your own, but sharing a good story is a universal pleasure. I feel very lucky to have discovered Doorstep Library and look forward to sharing many more stories in the future.