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Francisco Gonzalez Larumbe - Salamanca to Belfast and BEYOND!

My year as a European Voluntary Service Volunteer with Volunteer Now

“Good morning Frank!” I hear every morning as I cross the office doors with my bike. First things first, I help myself with a cuppa as I open my wee notebook and my diary. “So how’s the week looking…” – I mutter to myself. “Right, health check at Castle Espie tomorrow, info stand down in Newry on Thursday…”-”How was your weekend Frank?”- One of my dearest colleagues smiles at me. And I, oh happy days, have always something to say. “Yeah, fantastic, I was hiking here and there/ had this house party/volunteered at this festival/ visited this place…”

How delightfully odd it seems that these lovely day-to-day details don’t change; in comparison with how much I have, in retrospect, throughout the course of my project here. Like baby steps, I started off timidly by updating our database and preparing monthly sheets. Soon enough, I was taking calls from colleagues, volunteers, charities, social workers, clients, etc. I was networking in forums and seminars all over the city. I was championing Volunteer Now across regions. In a blink, I found myself immersed in the biggest events Belfast and Northern Ireland have ever witnessed, such as Balmoral Show, Irish Open or Tall Ships. But I was also fixing bikes with East Belfast Mission, gardening at Donkey Sanctuary, labelling Oxfam products at their warehouse, doing workshops with friendly disabled chaps from Clear Project, visiting Ulster Folk Museum with wise and joyful Men United… and many other grass-roots contributions, forever to be cherished.

All in all, the best internship in the world could not have provided me with such a wide range of opportunities in the volunteering sector. Thanks to Volunteer Now’s kindness, flexibility and support, I could experience community work from a bird’s eye view. Thus, I cannot feel more thankful to them and to the EVS program that made this booming venture possible.