Give the sofa a miss
Try volunteering — and transform your life as well as other people’s
HOW DO you spend your free time? Catch up on TV, browse the internet or go shopping? More people than you’d expect spend their free time volunteering. In these tough times, Kisharon and other charities count on the goodwill of volunteers to enrich lives — and much more besides.
At Kisharon, which supports adults and children with learning difficulties, you’ll find volunteers doing admin, gardening and driving, helping in the classrooms, rattling collection tins, going on outings, even decorating. But it’s not a one-way street. Volunteering at Kisharon Day School gave new teacher Yaacov Goldin his first taste of life in front of a class, with its “amazing experiences and special moments”.
Sometimes volunteers join the payroll. Zoe Lainsbury, who left Kisharon last year, actually joined as a volunteer back in 2006.
For some, helping now could pay dividends in the future. On Sundays, when most 16-year-olds are snuggling under the duvet, Pooja Shetye does arts and crafts with two women supported by Kisharon. Pooja, who hopes to study medicine, says: “The things I do are small, yet I feel I make a big difference.”
All volunteers make a big difference, but younger ones perhaps more so. Children who find making friends challenging due to their disability get to hang out once a week with a mainstream teenager through the Kisharon buddies scheme.
The Bnei Akiva madrichim who cared for young Kisharon adults on last year’s Shabbaton at Finchley United Synagogue came in for special praise. Mum Emma Castleton said about her son Elias: “He was looked after beautifully. It was good not to be woken up at 5.30 on a Shabbat morning.”
Kisharon made sure its volunteer management practices were unsurpassed by signing up to the Experts in Volunteering scheme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Social events for its volunteers are a way of thanking them and give helpers the chance to share experiences. A number of Kisharon adults volunteer at Jewish charities, including GIFT, which promotes a culture of giving. And just before Rosh Hashanah last year, a team of men from Kisharon polished the Judaica at four synagogues. It is said that the Big Society is waning, but at Kisharon this is certainly not the case.
Kitchen skills at Kisharon