A very different kind of office

Catherine Small, volunteer at the Earth Trust office tells us her story:

I used to be a lawyer, working away in a very formal office environment. It was not my cup of tea, or coffee for that matter! Whilst the work could be interesting, the environment was not, and there was no sense of contributing towards any greater good which I felt was missing from my working life. I made the decision to stop work and bring up my children and happily bade formal office life goodbye.

Fast forward fifteen busy years, my children were both at senior school and I now found myself with time to spare, and a wish to use some of it for a worthwhile purpose. I also wanted to reignite skills that had laid dormant for a long time. That was when I came across the Earth Trust volunteering network.

My family have been visiting the Earth Trust for many years – we are lucky enough to live just around the corner and have always enjoyed the green space and wildlife that the Trust encourages the public to enjoy. Their website seemed like a good place to start, to see whether there was any way in which I could become involved in such a great, local charity.

I was delighted to see that the Trust takes the volunteering community very seriously, even having a dedicated page on their website. The opportunities available are many and varied and, crucially for me, allow volunteers to be flexible with the time they can give as I can only volunteer during term time. As I scanned the list I realised that my skill-set could best be put to use helping out in the office, so I applied. I was invited for a cup of tea and a chat with some lovely members of staff, and a couple of weeks later I was dusting off the cobwebs and taking my seat as a weekly office volunteer.

So one day a week, I am now back in an office. But this is not office life as I previously knew it. Dogs pop in and out; children on school visits sing and laugh outside; sometimes you might find yourself sitting next to a box of newly hatched chicks! The office reverberates with activity and there is never a dull morning. But don’t be misled by the down-to-earth atmosphere: the office is a hub of serious activity and professionalism, providing the foundations without which the charity simply could not function. Bills are paid; projects are planned; funding applications submitted; events are organised and a hundred other, vital things go on there every day, with everyone working towards one common goal: to further the work of the charity. Volunteers are offered the choice of which section they want to help out in, and you never know what each week will bring. I am thrilled to be able to help, even in a small way. And I will never think of office life as dull and dusty again!