For Haven Community Hub founder, Paula Woolven, volunteering has always been a huge part of life.
What led you to voluntary work?
“My mother’s example is the primary reason for both my volunteering and my drive to create my own charitable causes. After more than 40 years of volunteering for youth football clubs, community theatres and local branches of national charities, my mother, Marilyn Nolan, was awarded the British Empire Medal. She is my role model and my hero. How could I not try to be half the woman and community champion she is?”
Having found little fulfillment in her early office based career, Paula was inspired by working with Body Shop founder Anita Roddick on various charitable projects and, after a visit to an orphanage in Nepal, Paula knew that she never wanted to work in a corporate office again. She wanted to work and volunteer in the charity sector.
Why did you start your own non-profit organisation?
Paula took the plunge to create the Havens Community Hub, in the heart of her local coastal area, simply because she knew there were community needs which were not being met. The Hub has founded several projects in its first operational year, one of which has gained independent status and is the only volunteer car driver scheme in the Havens area.
“I was delighted when Havens Community Cars CIO gained independent charity status and launched to the public in September 2020. I would never ask someone to volunteer for a job I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself so I was delighted to do some passenger trips recently. My passengers’ needs included temporary and permanent mobility issues, sight loss or lack of public transport accessibility and their destinations included hospitals, clinics, daily living tasks and the winter flu vaccination programme.”
One important journey ended up in Paula helping an older passenger after she broke down in tears and admitted the lock-down had broken her normally upbeat spirit and the enforced enclosure had brought lingering depression. Thankfully, being local, she knew a good friend of her passenger and was able to take her for a cup of tea and cake – the best medicine of all – before taking her home. Paula added: “She later called me, in much better spirits, and has organised a visit with another friend, which we will be happy to facilitate. I know this will have an enormous impact on her mental health – which is proven to have physical benefits too.”
As well as driving as a volunteer for the car scheme, Paula undertakes a variety of roles at the Havens Community Hub including governance, finance and hands-on-support wherever necessary. She embodies the ‘ethos’ of the Hub as she is determined to ‘find a way – or make a way’ and looks forward to introducing more volunteering opportunities to the Havens communities.