50 Stories: Their point of view
"I had a gap year before university and I worked in a children’s home in South Africa. Apartheid was still in force and the home was just for children of mixed race. It was a very interesting experience and it helped me to see the importance of volunteering.
I worked for TfG between 1988 and 92, when I was in my early 20s. I was the only full time employee at that time - I worked with Lynda Moss, a part time administrator. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of TfG in Coventry Cathedral while I was working there. I felt very strongly that an experience of volunteering will change your life. Ever since I left TfG, I have worked for VSO so I’ve always been in that type of work.
When I worked for TfG, it became obvious to me that young people in Britain could have as much culture shock when volunteering in another part of the UK as someone in a new culture overseas. We live in our little pockets of society and don’t necessarily know how different others’ lives may be.
I think it it’s important for Christians to understand there is huge diversity in churches. We may feel that we understand each other, but actually, church experiences can be hugely different in a different tradition or in Bradford, or London, or Winchester, and when you’re young, you’re open to those experiences and people are open to you. You learn stuff that you can’t ever learn when you’re older because people don’t open up to you in the same way.
Volunteering is great at any age, but it’s a particular opportunity when you’re young to share lives. That’s amazing and transformational. We make lots of assumptions about how people operate, people we’ve never met. When you move and live amongst them, you realise they are individuals. Your perspective changes when you sit and listen properly to people and begin to see things from their point of view."
This post is part of '50 Stories,' a year-long series of personal accounts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Time For God.