He’s still studying at university, but Benj Cheeseman is already deeply involved in volunteering.
Why did you want to volunteer?
Benj started at St Johns Ambulance in 2016 as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and loved it, so it was no hardship to try a different type of volunteering to complete his D of E Silver Award, and he joined Rotherfield St.Martin in 2017.
He started out by sitting in on the Monday companionship meetings, but, as he got to know everyone better, soon found himself helping members with IT issues … phones, tablets, computers … and anything else practical that he could assist with. But he also engaged in talking and listening, too – lots of it. During Covid-19 Benj delivered meals, fruit and cake to a dozen elderly members but it was no quick job – it took him around three hours each time because socially-distanced ‘chatting’ went hand-in-hand with deliveries.
What have you got from volunteering?
Benj says the people he visits are always pleased to see him and that he learns so much from them by listening to their stories. “When you see someone in the street, you never think about the stories that have made up their lives, but you do when you chat to them. It’s really interesting.” When asked why he volunteers, Benj replied: “Because I can. It’s a mindset. There is no reason for me NOT to help. I have time, and I have also been lucky enough to be around great grandparents and family members, which I guess has made me appreciate the value of older people.”
Celebrate Youth Award
The RSM website declares an intention to bring young and old together to transform lives through intergenerational work and Benj has clearly been inspired by this. Some of Benj’s friends have also been volunteers. Young people are actually a big part of RSM – last year they were thrilled to collectively win the ‘Celebrate Youth Outstanding Contribution Award.
If Benj’s story is anything to go by, there is no doubt it was an award well-deserved.