Furlonteer Q&A with Lizzie Fenwick
Please could you introduce yourself to us and how you came to hear about Furlonteer? My name is Lizzie Fenwick and before I was furloughed I was working as a communications and social media coordinator. A few days after my boss told me that they were going to have to furlough me for several months, she sent me a link to the Furlonteer website, I guess she knows that I like to be busy!
What made you want to want to sign up as a Furlonteer? I live far away from my family and the combination of lockdown and furlough made me feel like I was helpless to everything that was happening. I thought that being able to lend my skills to a charity would give me the opportunity to give back and do something proactive during such an uncertain and volatile time.
Could you tell us a little about the charity you’ve been matched with and your role in helping them?
I have been volunteering with The Brain and Spine Foundation, who provide support to people affected by neurological problems.
My role centers around re-working their case study templates and writing up people's stories so that they can be shared on the organisation's website and social media.
My job is to make sure that the stories that we share are true representations of what people have experienced, making sure not to sugar-coat the difficult parts while also knowing that these case studies are important for people just starting their recovery journey to know that they are not alone.
Which new skills has this experience given you?
I have gained a much greater understanding of how charities like The Brain and Spine Foundation are funded, and how important public fundraising and donations are.
So many charities right now are struggling because the big annual fundraising events that they rely on have had to be cancelled. One of the really wonderful things I have learnt from this experience is how communities band together to support one another.
So many people who have been helped by The Brain and Spine Foundation in the past have been running virtual fundraisers, running marathons in their gardens and doing a whole manner of weird and wonderful things to continue to raise money during lockdown, which has been incredibly heartwarming to witness.
What impact do you feel it’s had on your experience of being Furloughed, and are you likely to continue volunteering after it ends?
From very early on with the Brain and Spine Foundation I was confident that I would want to continue once my furlough ended. It has been incredibly rewarding to work towards something positive over the last few months.
Could you give any advice or tips to other people considering signing up to Furlonteer?
I guess the greatest piece of advice I could give would simply be to go for it. I know when I applied I was skeptical that there would be any organisations out there that would require the skills I had to offer, but I was happily surprised that within days I had heard from a charity that needed a volunteer with the exact skillset I possessed.
Also, and this might sound a little selfish, but it feels good to do something worthwhile. Volunteering has definitely given me a more positive outlook during lockdown and furlough and I am really grateful to Furlonteer to facilitating these opportunities for people like me who would otherwise have been lost (or simply bored) without this work.