Give the sofa a miss

Try vol­un­teer­ing — and trans­form your life as well as other peo­ple’s

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Chai Cancer Care -

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

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