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Volunteering: Janine's Story

Many organisations such as charities, schools, sports events and clubs rely on volunteers to deliver all kinds of activities and services. Read on to hear from our Janine on the volunteering roles she's involved with and the benefits of helping out:

"I have always volunteered from a young age, probably starting at school, with something simple like Milk or Pencil Monitor, and then progressed on to volunteering at Coffee Mornings at Brownies, sports events with my dad, various football events and activities with both my parents, and junior team when I played as a child and into my teenage years.

Today, I continue to volunteer outside of my work at SOAR, but it was volunteering that lead me to the role I do now as a Wellbeing Coach for local surgeries within the SAPA5 Primary Care Network.

Throughout the pandemic and lockdown periods, SOAR and Longley 4 Greens were involved in a This Girl Can project, and I became involved to inspire others to cycle, run and walk. I began by posting in the now archived online group, then ran a Couch to 5k block with the other ambassadors to inspire others. When this job came up at SOAR, this experience was invaluable and meant I already was doing part of the skills required for the role of Wellbeing Coach.

Since doing the Couch to 5K, and Parkrun returning after the pandemic, I regularly volunteer at both Junior Parkrun and Parkrun in a variety of roles (my favourite is Tail Walker!). I’m not one for being first, and don’t mind allowing others to finish ahead of me.

I’ve also volunteered with British Cycling as a Breeze Champion since 2013. Breeze is an initiative to get more women cycling. I’m somewhere around 330 rides in, with over 1,000 other women having been inspired by me and my rides. This led on to also becoming a Cycling Coach, an Accredited Marshal, and recently a volunteer with the new Pump Track in Hillsborough Park. Volunteering in cycling has also meant I’m now lucky enough to have funded volunteering a few weeks a year on two of the biggest cycle races held in Britain. I get to share the love of cycling a variety of ways.

For me, volunteering has given me chance to upskill, learn new things, gain experience, give something back, pay it forward, and gain confidence."

The benefits of volunteering are immense and can include:

- Having fun!

- Meeting new people and making friends

- Being part of a community

- Learning new skills and building your personal development

- Gaining qualifications

- Making a difference

- A sense of wellbeing

- Improved physical and mental health

- Reduced stress

Here at SOAR we have a variety of volunteers who help at events, social cafés, walks, Wellbeing Wednesdays, and much more. If you're interested in getting involved, visit the Volunteering page on our website to see the roles we have available, or you can contact

Here are some really good links to the opportunities Janine has mentioned above, or find your own and start your volunteering journey today!

Who knows where volunteering might take you?

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