Tuesday 8 May 2018


Since my mother passed away last year, I’ve been obsessed with the notion of doing more, or shall I say more specifically, doing more for others. I suppose staring in the face of one’s mortality can do that to a person. It’s also hard not to question everything in one’s life when death strolls up and whacks you in the face (as we know, death isn't subtle). Like many, I came to the conclusion, that sitting on the sidelines and ranting on Facebook about politics and what not, wasn’t going to cut it anymore. 

So I asked myself what matters to me, and more importantly, how will that make an impact? Some big questions best answered after a large cup of coffee. Aside from lending my writing skills to causes that mean a lot to me and doing what I can for the environment, it always came back to children in some for or another - being that they're the future and all that. 

So I started volunteering at my son’s school - which has made me want to run up and hug every teacher I come into contact with and hand them a bottle of wine - and signed up to volunteer at a renowned children’s hospital here in London. I figured, if I can give a few hours and make a child smile or distract them from the fact that their life is being spent in a hospital (whilst giving their parents the time to sneak off and grab a cup of tea) then job done.

Before you start thinking of a litany of excuses as to why you can't give up your time, please understand that volunteer work in any capacity is not one size fits all. The whole point is to ask yourself, what is your thing, what makes you tick? And how can you use your time, energy and skillset to give back and make the world a little less bleak. And when I say time, I mean, ANY time you can spare, in any capacity. The world is a big place awash in causes/organisations/institutions that could use a helping hand in a variety of ways. 

The sobering part is, how many people do not engage in any sort of volunteer work throughout their life and yet, giving even an hour of time would make a difference, not only to a cause but also to one’s own well being. Is that a selfish reason to undertake volunteer work?  Well, if it makes you feel good while helping others, who cares how much one’s ego comes into play. In my opinion, we have become a world of insular, polarized, fear driven creatures that need a huge reminder that power in numbers can be a beautiful thing. I’m as jaded as the next woman, trust me, but I’d like to believe that what is missing in all our lives is the remembrance that once upon a time, we used to help one another a lot more than we do now. We didn’t let our differences (or fear thereof) polarize us to the point of lunacy... well, okay, maybe we did, but when we weren’t being ignorant, war mongering bigots (oh my stars, how little we've progressed!), we came together to build houses and communities, and borrowed cups of sugar! Before sugar became the enemy of course.

What has amazed me most thus far about my experience at the hospital are the other volunteers. The age range is vast, backgrounds diverse, and the experience they bring to the table is awe-inspiring - it often causes me to ask myself, why haven't I done more?!  From the twenty something’s with full time jobs that choose to give up their weekends to volunteer (their weekends people, their weekends!! My weekends in my twenties were spent... well, let's just leave that there) to the woman at the age of 72, with MS, that gets herself there once a week, by bus, to be a "ward granny." Honestly, the volunteer pool is beyond impressive. 

So, honestly, what’s your excuse? 

Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed