Ruth Connolly volunteers with Sailability Carrickfergus
1. What does your volunteering involve?
I meet and greet the disabled and able bodied people when they arrive at the club. I then assist in launching the boats into the water, and then I drive one of the power boats, when we are out at sea I give the disabled person the chance to drive the boat by using dual control.
2. When did you first begin volunteering?
I started volunteering with Sailability in April 2011.
3. What inspired you to get involved?
I am also a volunteer with Autism Network NI, they have a Youth Club in which I volunteer as a leader, I was approached by a volunteer involved with Sailability as they knew I had a love for boats and also helping disabled people, I said I would try it out and that one off experience overjoyed me so much that I decided to commit some more voluntary hours to this organisation.
4. What attracted you to the role?
As I said previously I love to work with disabled and able bodied people and I also love driving boats and giving people the opportunity to experience life on the sea, so with Sailability all of my hobbies and desires to help those less fortunate than me are fulfilled as a volunteer with this organisation.
5. What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role?
Patients, being a people person and good communication skills, part of my role as a volunteer is to explain the safety procedures while onboard the boat to the people participating therefore it is very important that I can communicate well with them at all levels.
6. Why do you volunteer?
I really enjoy it, it is a great way to make new lifelong friends and expand you social circle and experiences, and the self satisfaction in helping others is unbelievable.
7. How often do you volunteer?
8 hours per week.
8. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Interacting with the people using the services of Sailability, the other volunteers, we are like one big happy family and most of all the feeling that I am doing something very worthwhile.
9. Why would you encourage others to get involved?
It is great fun, and when you are involved in volunteering no matter what activity it maybe the smile on the faces of those benefiting from your voluntary work will be totally rewarding.
10. What has been the highlight of your volunteering?
I organised my own presentation/conference about Autism for Sailabilty and 40 people turned up (this was a full house) and everyone who attended approached me afterwards to congratulate me on the way I organised so many people to attend so that the message would get across in such an understanding and professional way, they left the conference with knowledge about Autism that they did not know, this was a great success for both me, Autism Network NI and Sailability.
11. What advice would you give someone starting to volunteer?
Be yourself, choose an activity that you have a passion for because volunteering is all about enjoying yourself and when you are involved all your needs are met.
12. Do you think the London 2012 Olympics will inspire people to get involved in sport and will it leave a legacy?
It will encourage a lot of people, they will get involved now, however I believe this will be short term, I believe in the legacy of the Olympics and that people will continue with the sport of their choice however this will be minimal on a long term basis.