Volunteer Week: There’s been a sea change in my life, I can’t go back to where I was before…
Frank first joined a Shared Reading group in Phoenix House two years ago. He went on to be a group member in a community group and trained to lead a group in a care home. He now runs a community reading group in Birkenhead. He tells his Reader Story here, in his own words:
"I don’t want to put myself down, but I have changed as a person, since getting involved with The Reader. I don’t know where it came from but in the second week I was in a reading group I decided to read and just did it, even hearing my own voice was scary.
I’m a lot less conscious of it now, I put feeling into stuff without probably realising it. I think if you asked me to read aloud in front of a stadium full of people I would do it now.
Getting my job - think that’s in part down to my volunteering with The Reader and not just ‘cause I can put it on my CV. When I was in the interview talking about it, the could just see it, if you’re passionate about something they just can, can’t they? So... I think that was a massive part of why I was successful in getting my full-time job.
I don’t think I understood when I started volunteering that the sort of job I wanted to go for would value volunteering more than, you know, qualifications or current employment. There’d have been points in the past where I wouldn’t have said I’d got a criminal record, I’d have just lied about it.
I now have the confidence to be honest, ‘cause that’s who I am. It’s nice not have to hide anything anymore, it’s liberating. Being brutally honest, and it’s not something I enjoy admitting but I was probably quite a sarcastic person... sometimes I could be hurtful and since doing this, I’m more open generally in my whole life, not just in the reading groups. When I do groups now, I say “as long as you can understand it that’s good enough.”
I’m not as judgmental as I used to be and I appreciate things. I appreciate people, which is massive. This is all from The Reader. I‘m going to get upset, because I used to value material stuff, quite a lot, don’t get me wrong I still like nice things, but it’s the connections I’ve got with people that is important these days - there’s been a sea change in my life and I can’t go back to where I was before.
I think what’s changed is I’m comfortable with me. And that comes across in whatever I’m doing now, whether I’m trying to support people at work or challenging people when they need it. I think I just trust my instincts now. I just deal with things a lot differently than I ever have done before, things come natural now."
Thanks to support from the players of the People's Postcode Lottery, The Reader are recruiting and training new volunteers from across the UK to bring Shared Reading into their local community.
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