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  • Giving the Gift of Time - My volunteer journey

Giving the Gift of Time - My volunteer journey

Many of us have people who influence our lives, who spend their time making a difference; someone who is inspirational, wise, or there for us when we need them most. I have been very fortunate to have come across many of these people, but the lady who has influenced my life choices the most up until this point, was somewhat unexpected.

My Aunty was a kind-hearted lady who touched the lives of those she met in a gentle, understated way. She was generous with her time and her comments, always with a compliment or a good word to say, and yet seemingly unaware of the positive impact she had on those around her. Her generous, caring nature was perfectly suited to her work as a carer.

So when she passed away prematurely, it left a hole in many of our lives and, for me, more than I could have anticipated. Not only did I miss her, I also asked myself why this had happened to someone who did so much good in the world. After time and much reflection, it became a genuine search for what I should do with my life; was I making the most of it? During this time, I spoke to someone who drew out the diagram below. The dot represents the difference you make and the outside circle represents your life. The bigger the dot expands to fill the circle, the bigger difference you feel you are making.


For a while after, whilst I continued to reflect, time and time again, this was what I kept coming back to. I came to the conclusion that, for me, life was all about making a difference.

But what does this look like? Does it have to be something big or epic to make it worthwhile? Originally I thought so - if you’re going to focus your life on making a difference, you may as well go big. But what about my Aunty? What about the impact she made every day to those she cared for? Is that the choice - a big difference to a few or a little difference to many? Who’s to say what is ‘big’?

Having weighed up a few options; from living on a Greenpeace boat in the Arctic (well not far off!) to volunteering in my own time, I have decided the Arctic is not for me at this moment. I have instead opted to start with a six month secondment at Thames Hospice, and that will be the focus of this blog.

Who knows how it will change me and my outlook and future choices in life. But what I do know is it that it will give me an experience quite unlike anything I have had before. So I go into it open minded and with the intent to do the best I possibly can. I just know that it feels right to do something meaningful, help others and ultimately, make a difference.

You can read more from Marianne over the coming months, or via her website here. Why not follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ while you're at it?