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Volunteers’ Week: Meet Alison

Volunteers' Week is our chance to celebrate the amazing people who give their time and skills to make Save the Children's work possible. Meet Alison, an amazing speaker who raises funds and awareness for Save the Children in Anglesey, North Wales.

“I started volunteering in 1995 when I moved to Anglesey. My sister-in-law said she thought I needed to join the Save the Children branch here and I didn’t dare disagree!

I didn’t know a great deal about Save the Children’s work but, honestly, the clue was in our name. We literally save children’s lives, feeding them, giving them medical care and the chance to be educated and protecting them from harm. I retired from teaching 12 years ago and got stuck in to volunteering even more than before.

The best things about volunteering for Save the Children are the opportunity to use skills transferred from work life and working as a team.

The Anglesey group meets every month in a local cafe over lunch. Our meetings are very informal though we do take minutes, so we do everything we promise to!

We very much work as a team. We’ve got eight committee members and then about fifteen people who help where and when they can. All are invaluable. We encourage everyone to join in with whatever we are doing - auctions, collections on Christmas Jumper Day, our annual craft fair. But we also encourage people to fundraise in ways they find interesting, whether that’s running marathons or selling upcycled furniture. We just ask, ‘What would you like to do that we can help with?’

We’re all here for the same reason. We know when we’re making a cup at a coffee morning it isn’t just a cup of coffee. It improves children’s lives. When we collect money outside our local football and rugby clubs in the rain, it will improve children’s life chances.

People are generous and want to help. We give them a way to do that. Last year, in two hours, we raised £1,800 for our Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal at a coffee morning. Our area is not a wealthy one, but people give and do what they can.

We get together with other branches in Wales, too. During lockdown the Wales Branch Chairs met on Zoom, and we’ve carried on ever since. We swap fundraising ideas, keep up to date and from time to time organise all-Wales fundraising events. We raised about £11,000 through a sponsored walk, walking the equivalent of the whole Wales Coastal Path three times! Thirty of us did the world’s fastest zipwire in Eryri/Snowdonia raising over £13,000. And last year we made over £5,000 selling preloved, donated jewellery at the Wales National Eisteddfod.

We give each other confidence to do more and bigger events. Meeting makes us feel part of something bigger. We also make sure resources are bilingual, which is important in Wales - showing Save the Children’s recognition that we work in cultures across the world, and respect and celebrate them within the UK, too.

I’m also a speaker for Save the Children which can be really inspiring. I recently went to a local primary school to thank them for raising over £7,000! There were four Turkish families in the school, and when the school council (aged 5 to 11) heard about the Turkey-Syria earthquake they organised a sponsored walk by the whole school. Even the nursery class joined in.

In 2017, I was lucky enough to go to Rwanda as part of a team of volunteers visiting Save the Children’s projects there. It was an amazing experience which absolutely convinced me that all the fundraising is so worthwhile. I now support Save the Children by speaking about what we saw in the schools and hospitals there. I’m always so proud when I see or hear someone talking on TV or radio from Save the Children as I feel I am part of something great.
I’ve gained new skills such as organising public meetings, setting up online meetings, persuading businesses to support us and becoming a saleswoman. I never thought I could do that! It’s great to give everyone the opportunity to use the skills they acquired at work or through their life, and Save the Children does that.

Feeling inspired? Find out more about volunteering with Save the Children, including our latest opportunities.