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Anita's story

50-year-old Anita credits volunteering with changing her life. After battling alcohol dependence and homelessness in her early twenties, Anita felt that she was on the outskirts of society and had nothing to offer. She turned to volunteering to occupy her time, and went on to become a valued Royal Voluntary Service volunteer for almost a year, before she built up the self-confidence and self-belief to apply for college. Volunteering was the beginning of a fresh start for Anita, who went on to build an impressive CV and make a difference with her work, and eventually returned to Royal Voluntary Service.

"I realised that I needed to do something to occupy myself and keep me out of trouble. But I felt completely unemployable. I couldn’t imagine ever working, or having any discipline. But it was time to step back into the world. I went in to speak to someone at Royal Voluntary Service, I explained that I had no skills and nothing to bring to the party, but I was looking for a meaningful way to occupy myself. I was offered a role as a runner on the meals on wheels service and ended up doing around two shifts a week for almost a year. It was terrifying in the beginning, but I loved the customers, and the role got me out there talking to people again!

"Because of volunteering, I felt ready to take another step. I signed up for A Level maths, physics and sociology at college. There is no way I could have gone to college if I hadn’t been volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service. I finally had experience of working to a timetable, committing to something, and being responsible. I felt that I now had half a chance. After college, I went to uni and studied social anthropology, graduating with a 1st, and came top of my year. I then got a distinction in my Masters. I absolutely loved it, it showed me the world was a colourful place again. It was all because of Royal Voluntary Service."

Anita’s CV now includes working as a Learning Mentor for asylum seekers and refugees, supporting students with their mental health in a Student Coach role, working as Pastoral Lead, and teaching mindfulness to adults. All the while doing unpaid work supporting people dealing with addiction. In 2023, she found her way back to Royal Voluntary Service when she felt compelled to support people experiencing loneliness, and signed up as a Calls With Care volunteer.

"I find it heartbreaking that some people might be totally alone, without anyone to talk to or turn to. I’ve been so lucky, I am married, have a daughter and amazing friends. I’m glad to have come full circle and be back with RVS and helping people again. I am very grateful for the part that the charity played in connecting me back to the world that I'd become disconnected from. Even today I tell people how volunteering changed my life."