I would highly recommend volunteering to older people. It’s a chance to meet the other volunteers who have all been exceptionally nice people and to, hopefully, inspire children to foster life-long pleasure for reading.
I loved reading as a child and still do. My first job after university was as a librarian. I was, rather against my will, pushed into children’s libraries but loved it when I got there. At that time (the 1970s) children’s books were even less diverse and class-ridden than they are now. I was on a team of librarians who wrote a book for the Institute of Race Relations on books about the various homelands children came from. I also edited a book Stories from the City which got authors to write stories set in an urban, contemporary environment. I left civilisation for a few years and became a proofreader for Penguin. When my daughter was born, I joined her to the library when she was 7 months old! I did the same for my grandchildren when they were born.
Why did I want to volunteer with Doorstep Library?
I saw an advert in Lambeth news and it so matched my interests that I thought I must apply. I had just finished writing a cookery book for a charity and I thought I could perhaps take on one more thing.
Did I have any reservations before volunteering?
I believe very strongly in doing things for other people. I had loads of reservations. Would I be too old and out of touch? Would I be able to manage the technology? I liked the idea of actually going to the children’s homes and reading to them but wondered if I would be strong enough to carry the books so opted for online volunteering. I learnt to Zoom over lockdown but still feel nervous about pulling books onto the screen but, the Doorstep Library staff have been fantastic and kind to me and very helpful. I know I am older, but I hope the children see me as a grandmotherly figure and everyone needs a grandmother!
My favourite moment?
The best thing has been the children (and their parents). The three I have been working with are completely delightful (even the very fidgety one). I don’t think there has been one particular moment although I was pleased when one mother said how much confidence the programme had given her daughter. It is always lovely when the children listen to the stories read and have clearly understood them.
Would I recommend volunteering to older people?
I would highly recommend volunteering to older people. It’s a chance to meet the other volunteers who have all been exceptionally nice people and to, hopefully, inspire children to foster life-long pleasure for reading. I really want to conquer my technical fears but the other volunteers are so kind that anxiety in that direction should not put people off.