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‘Above and Beyond’ for volunteering

The benefits of volunteering can last a lifetime—not only for those being helped, but also for those who volunteer.

Octavia Ealing recognised one of their volunteers by awarding them the ‘Above and Beyond’ award during Volunteers’ Week.

Jill Kayum, who works at the Octavia charity shop, in High Street, Ealing, 4 days a week, has been a pivotal figure in serving the community and supporting the charity.

Jill has been volunteering at the shop for more than 3 years. As well as helping to keep things running smoothly, especially through the pandemic and periods of low staffing, she is celebrated for her amazing achievement in enabling the shop to thrive through attracting a loyal customer base.

But that’s not the most amazing thing about Jill, she chose to volunteer with Octavia to ‘give something back’ to her community, despite facing her own considerable personal challenges.

A sense of purpose

During lockdown, Jill had a very challenging time. Within just a few months of the pandemic starting she was made redundant from her job. She then discovered that she needed to have surgery for a benign brain tumour. She admits that these events really knocked her confidence, and she found herself lacking a sense of purpose. “It was awful,” said Jill. “My confidence had gone completely; I became shy for the first time in my life.”

When lockdown lifted, Jill visited the Octavia Ealing store with her sister to do some shopping. The shop was in an ideal location for her, and the team were warm and welcoming, so her sister suggested that she ask about volunteering there.

Jill said: “I was initially very nervous, but I hoped it would help me to regain my confidence. I decided to put in an application, and within 3 days the manager confirmed that he wanted me to join the volunteer team. I haven’t looked back since – volunteering has really helped to get me back on my feet, and the team are so lovely.”

Having worked all her adult life, which involved spending lots of time commuting and working outside of the borough, Jill finds it brilliant to be able to walk to the shop every day and do something good in the community she calls home.

Give back

“I’m retired, and I don’t feel the need to work for money now – I feel this is my time to give something back,” Jill commented. “I remember clearly, when I was about 7 years old, my mum took me and my sister to a charity shop in Camden – we were quite poor, and mum was able to buy us the clothes we needed there. I have always remembered that experience. Now, I get to give back to my community and honour that special memory.

“If you are thinking about volunteering, I would say do it – definitely. It feels great to do something with a real purpose here in my community.”

Octavia charity shops have been described by customers as ‘hubs’ of the community, and the Ealing shop is no exemption. The shop has lots of regular customers and donors from the local area, and many have shared with Jill that they feel valued each time they visit. For Jill, the community aspect is what drives her each day to work hard. She takes a lot of pride in keeping the shop clean and organised, and providing excellent customer service.

On presenting Jill with the Octavia ‘Above and Beyond’ volunteer award, Volunteer Coordinator Tatiana said: “I am so happy that Jill is receiving this award. I had the pleasure of working with Jill and she truly deserves it. Everything she does for the shop and the community comes from her heart. She puts 100%  into everything she does, and she genuinely cares. She is amazing and an inspiration.”

About Octavia

Octavia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides homes, support and care to thousands of people in central and west London.  Founded by the Victorian philanthropist Octavia Hill in the 1860s, it supports Londoners of all ages, giving them opportunities that will help them lead a better life.  Octavia operates 7 extra care housing schemes across west London and provides events and activities for local people of all ages from their community hub, The Reed, in North Kensington.

Volunteering opportunities

Octavia is just one of the many organisations across the borough that has volunteering opportunities – check out what’s available on the Do Something Good website.

There are many benefits to volunteering, including:

  • meeting new people and developing lasting relationships
  • learning new skills and increasing your self-esteem
  • helping you to stand out on job applications and further your career
  • increasing your happiness and better your mental health
  • knowing you are making a difference and doing good in the local community.

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