Volunteer Stories: Emma

We spoke to Bristol Coach Emma about why she volunteers for Read Easy.

I’m lucky. I’ve got a job I love, a happy family, good friends.  But three years ago, I wanted more. I wanted to do more with my time and not waste an evening watching TV or scrolling through social media. I wanted to give more because I could, so started to look for a volunteering opportunity.

Each opportunity I saw was for Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, which just wasn’t going to work, because I work full time. And then I saw this little advert in a local magazine asking whether I enjoyed reading, and wanted to help others to read. Did I heck! I love reading – always have done – and tend to read about a book a week. It’s how I relax, and escape, as well as being able to do my job and run my life.

So I contacted the North Bristol Coordinator, Gill, and was invited to an interview – or a chat really – in a local library to find out more about why I wanted to volunteer with Read Easy. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a more perfect volunteering opportunity – with my love of reading, but also recognising the challenges that come from not being able to read, and how this impact on someone’s life.

About 6 months later – a match! My working hours fitted with my Reader’s hours and we arranged to meet twice a week – on a Monday and Saturday at the library. I’m able to work flexibly and can commit to a regular meeting. To begin with I spent quite a bit of time preparing as I was not familiar with the Turning Pages book, and hadn’t developed my own style of coaching. But as time has gone on and it was more familiar and I felt more confident, I probably now spend about 10 minutes before a session preparing what we will go through. I also spend about an hour a month creating materials that will interest my Reader, such as information on the first and second World Wars. We’ve even been able to continue to do our sessions during coronavirus, by using WhatsApp video calls, and sharing materials in advance.

I’ve found that even when I’ve had the most stressful day at work, seeing my Reader beam with pride when he has read something makes it all disappear. I’ve got a job I love, a happy family, good friends, and I coach someone to read. I’m very lucky.

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