Shirley Holdsworth – Volunteer & Treasurer of Eccleshill Village Steering Group
Question 1) How long have you lived in Eccleshill?
All my life apart from 1 year so that makes it 61 years – wow did I even want to know that!
Question 2) How did you get to be involved with volunteering and EVSG?
I worked at Health Promotion and someone from the NHS had been invited to speak at the Neighbourhood forums. I can’t even remember what that was about now but it sparked my interest. I started going to the forums and during one of these it was suggested that a ‘steering group’ be formed to look at ways of bringing the community closer together again. A questionnaire had been developed and one of the criticisms had been that there was no longer a sense of ‘community’ in the village – people were asked to volunteer to be part of this group and for some inexplicable reason my hand went up!
Question 3) How long have you been doing this?
7 years. In the 10 years previous to this I volunteered at East Bradford Kids Cycling Club at Richard Dunns doing the registrations and refreshments, outdoors in all weathers!
Question 4) What is your role as Treasurer and what projects / activities have you helped to organise?
I manage the account and keep records (spread sheets are wonderful!) for EVSG, pay in all money raised and arrange for cheques to be paid to various suppliers. We organise 2 events a year at the moment – the Village Fair which is held during the summer is a chance for residents and businesses to come together and have a fun day out – the funds we raise during this event are used to ‘light up the village at Christmas’ – the second event is the switching on of the Christmas Lights by one of the local children who has won our ‘design a poster’ competition, one of the local schools’ choir s sings at this event and we serve refreshments (mulled wine & mince pies for the adults & juice & biscuits for the children).
Question 5) What motivates you to volunteer?
I believe that if you want to get something out of life then you have to put some effort in (and that ‘something’ doesn’t always have to be financial gain) – I believed in David Cameron’s Big Society ideal (even though I have subsequently fallen out with him!) and believe that to volunteer is to demonstrate that we can all work together to get stuff done without having to be paid for doing it. It’s also a great way to meet and work with a bunch of people who have a common goal – even though we don’t all agree on the best way to do that at times – but life’s about negotiation and resolution so we just get on with it.
Question 6) What are the benefits you personally get from volunteering and what do you find is the most frustrating about the role?
Well I get a great sense of self-worth especially when the events that we have organised have gone well and people around the village come up to me and say ‘hey that was really great I/we enjoyed that so much’ – I enjoy seeing people meeting up at these events and having a good time, I feel good that I contributed to that, I generally follow that up with ‘well hey you could always join us and help out and have fun’, which is then followed up with a whole load of excuses! The frustrations are around the apathy that exists towards volunteering and getting things done, so many people it seems only want to moan but not actually get involved in trying to resolve issues. I also get frustrated when we don’t make as much money as we expected to make as we always have a huge ‘wish list’ for the village lights but never fulfil it!
Question 7) Over the years you have been treasurer, how much funding have you helped to raise on behalf of EVSG?
Well as a rough guesstimate would be around £8,000 it’s probably more but I don’t like to overestimate! The more money we raise the more we can ‘light up’ our village.
Question 8) What’s your message to people who want to get active?
Over the years I have witnessed communities give up their personal responsibilities around the issues that affect them (littering and dumping rubbish immediately springs to mind!) – I hear people say all the time ‘somebody should do something about this’ when complaining about local issues – I say ‘well could that somebody be you?’.