For Intergenerational Week we talked to some of our amazing volunteer pairs about their volunteering partnership. We talk here to Veronica and Janhavi – a pair of regular Online Reading Volunteers.
Here’s what they had to say …
Veronica: I’m Veronica and I’m a regular Online Reading Volunteer.
Janhavi – I’m Janhavi and I am currently pursuing my MSc in International Social and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am from India and have been a regular Online Reading Volunteer with Doorstep Library for a few months.
Q1. Why did you want to volunteer with Doorstep Library?
Veronica: I saw an advertisement for the volunteering role and it seemed to match perfectly with my interests and skills. I had a sick husband to care for and thought I could fit it in with those duties.
Janhavi: Back in India, I engaged in various volunteering activities from school, through college and my rural fellowship. It gives immense satisfaction and brings a smile to my face. I was missing out on volunteering experiences in the UK. I am glad I found Doorstep Library to help me experience interactions with children, my volunteer partner and of course, the books!
The children have such imaginative insights that bring a smile to my face. Sometimes it’s a challenge to hold their attention because they are tired or restless, but when they say, “How was your day” or “Thank you”, or “I missed you”, it makes my day!
Q2. As it’s Intergenerational Week, how and why do you think your age (whether older or younger) impacts the children you visit?
Veronica: I hope they see me as a grandmotherly figure.
Janhavi: I do not think the age of a volunteer matters a lot as long as the volunteer engages with the children at their level of energy. For example, Veronica (who is much older than me) has the same or even more enthusiasm than me at times! It is all about one’s willingness to connect with the children, the books and the stories. As a young volunteer, I have been more hands-on with the technical aspects of the volunteering sessions, so that’s the only possible advantage I can think of.
Q3. How do you think your age impacts your volunteering partner?
Veronica: I’m not sure how my age impacts on my partner but I know I benefit enormously from working with younger people. They are so wonderfully unfazed by technology and I learn about their lives. I love hearing about Janhavi’s family and life in India. She is such a positive voice that she makes me more hopeful for the future.
Janhavi: I’m volunteering with Veronica and I think she is amazing! Her smile, her energy, and her attitude are so refreshing. She is extremely understanding towards me, the children and their families. I have learnt so many things like punctuality, manner of speaking to children and their parents, and even reading with expressions from her! I am not half as good as she is reading with the children but I’m trying to learn every session. Veronica and I have gotten to know each other better over the last few months and she is such a sweet cheerleader to me. She motivates me and makes me laugh and I am happy to help her with the technical aspects of the session.
Q4. How do you think Doorstep Library helps bridge the age gap between its volunteers and families?
Janhavi: The programme’s flexible structure and privacy enables confidence-building among volunteers and families. We get enough space of our own to engage in helpful conversations with the children and their parents to establish a connection and also develop trust and understanding to progress in the reading activities.
Veronica: The age gap feels irrelevant to me as all volunteers are treated equally and children are very accepting of who they get. Who knows what they think but everyone is very friendly and respectful of each other.
Q5. What would be your advice for others who are thinking of volunteering at Doorstep Library?
Veronica: Just do it! You will meet brilliant people and wonderful children.
Janhavi: I would say, if you are thinking, then just go for it! The flexibility allows you to adjust your schedules and at the same time deliver on your commitment to the organisation. If you are lucky, you will meet a great volunteer partner like I did and form good bonds. It is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and experience a life beyond studies or work.