As part of #VolunteersWeek 2020 we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our wonderful Willow Volunteers. We continue to appreciate everything you help us acheieve. Read below why Barbara volunteers for WIllow and how COVID-19 has impacted her. 

I started working in the Communications team at Willow two years ago.

I had worked freelance from home in media recruitment for over 20 years but a combination of two life changing events made me reassess. My husband who had been a paraplegic for nearly eighteen years died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 58 and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer about a year later. Suddenly the world I knew had changed completely. The original benefits of working from home had now become too isolating.

I made the decision to make some life changes which could add meaning and quality and decided to volunteer with a charity that resonated with me, I was very lucky to find a great role at Willow. I knew of Willow from when it was originally founded by Bob & Megs Wilson twenty years ago and I felt that the work they did in providing Special Days was something incredibly valuable. Having had Breast cancer I also could understand the impact of the diagnosis on your mental and physical health and well being.

I volunteered two mornings a week as this gave me a structure to my week, it was so energising going back into an office full of people. There was a great sense of comradeship and commitment to the work Willow provided. My role entailed writing up the impact of Special Days into Case Studies which we could then be used for Marketing, Publicity and Fundraising. The stories were very powerful, some incredibly sad but most of all they told of the positive impact the Special Day provided so were also very uplifting.

Suddenly almost overnight everything changed again in March of this year with the Coronovirus pandemic. The office closed, all Special Days were cancelled for the foreseeable future. It was a very depressing and sad situation particularly as this year was Willow’s 20th Anniversary. From a personal perspective, I no longer could go into the office which had been my lifeline for the last two years. There were no new case studies to write and photos to enjoy looking at. Living on my own has been challenging over the last few years but in some strange way has prepared me quite well for the social isolation that has been forced upon us all.

I knew that I did not want to lose my connection with Willow so offered to work once again from home. I am able to work on historic Case Studies for Social Media and our Website, brainstorming new ideas and ways of working. We are having to start again with a blank page. This is challenging but also refreshing to find new pathways to the work we do and adjusting to the new normal

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