John Hutton explains how he became a Festival City Volunteer and looks back at his debut shift as a new team member.
"It's by chance I’d used a free service provided by Volunteer Edinburgh to help me plan my return to work. Volunteering is a task I’d always perceived as 'someone else’s responsibility'. I was always too busy with my work.
However, after being offered the chance to join the FCV team I was blown away by the scale of what they do, their passion was infectious, and I was completely sold and wanted to be part of it. Who wouldn’t want to be part of it?
I myself have a passion for Edinburgh, it's so photogenic and most days I can be found just walking the streets, taking in the history, taking photos and generally absorbing the special atmosphere that I feel you don’t get in many other cities. So yes, I signed up.
Committing my time to join the FCV team seemed like a no brainer for me. I would be out and about in a city I love, being part of the city as it opens its doors to the world. I would be meeting and working with other likeminded volunteers.
The health benefits and confidence boost this would give me is priceless. At the same time, I would be sharing my customer service experience, personal knowledge and passion for the city.
Upon finding myself in a rut, with no immediate plans or requirement to work after redundancy, I’ll be honest I got lazy and lost all sense of direction and purpose. Not working and having a disability can have an impact on your social life and mental wellbeing through time.
So, my aim by volunteering is not just what I can offer, it’s what I can also receive in return. Personally, I’ll obtain achievement by regaining my confidence and rebuilding my customer service skills whilst being taken out of my comfort zone.
I hope to achieve a broader perspective on what way my career path can change and discover new skills and friend networks along the way. For my colleagues and the public, if they remember me as someone who has helped, inspired or just made their day better, that again would be an accomplishment.
What I was most looking forward to for my first shift was simply getting started, working alongside inspiring team members of all ages and backgrounds and of course having fun.
That first shift, as a Team Leader, was certainly an experience I will remember. My anxieties had built the night before as is the case with my autism. I was nervously excited as I turned up on the day, an hour early. Meeting my team, they were just great, supportive and very eager to get out there and help. The team’s assets included the experience of returning volunteers and a colleague who could converse in Spanish.
It’s amazing how quickly any concerns about your ability leave you as soon as you have interactions with the public. We soon found a prominent position in the streets, dressed in our bright coloured tops and with our welcoming smiles the interactions with the public came very quickly and continuously throughout the shift.
The range of questions received covered all aspects of general directions within the city, general festival tickets information, bus routes, bus tours - the list goes on!
It's hard to explain my emotions upon completing the shift. I was mentally drained, but on such a high. There truly is a is a buzz created when you do this type of volunteering, a feeling of great satisfaction and I have no regrets for enlisting and look forward to my next shift."
Welcome to Team 2019 John! We're delighted that you've enjoyed your first shift as a Festival City Volunteer.