I've been a Meningitis Now Community Ambassador since my return from the Great Wall of China Trek I did for the charity back in October 2014.
It's a very privileged position and one that I take very seriously. I love the 1:1 opportunities and mentoring, hearing about successful fundraising events at presentations and meeting new people through collections and awareness raising events. It’s so important to get the message across about the signs and symptoms of this devastating illness.
Recently I have been asked to volunteer on university awareness campaigns. I live in Staffordshire which has two very large universities, so to be honest, I was a little worried about what this would entail.
But I really shouldn't have been at all! The Volunteer team had already done the hard work for me, accessing the contact details of the right people to talk to and letting them know that our fabulous charity was here to help them in any way we could. My job was to visit the university and simply ask what literature and information they might need. So armed with my list of email addresses and phone numbers, I got stuck in.
I decided to make contact initially by email as I wasn't sure if I was quite ready to answer questions over the phone and I didn't want to feel beaten at the first hurdle.
In the email, I mentioned who I was and my connection with Meningitis Now and that I was able to help with their 'student programme' if they needed it. I listed the literature and help that we were able to offer, such as manning an awareness card stand at fresher’s week or delivering a talk. I gave details of how to get in touch and that was that… simples!!
I waited a little bit, and just as I was about to start my mountain of ironing, I was saved (for a few moments at least) by a phone call! It was Ian, the Head of Student Support from Keele University who had been passed my email from a colleague. Ian was very happy to receive my email and wanted to know more, so there and then we set up a time to meet at Keele to discuss their requirements further.
A few days later I visited Ian, taking with me my samples of posters and symptoms cards that the university were able to order. We talked about their fresher’s week and how well they thought an awareness card drop at the student union would go.
Ian put in an order for 1,200 A5 signs and symptoms posters (1 for every kitchen in halls) and 15 other A4 posters for the Students Union, doctors surgery and Gym and Wellbeing Services on campus.
Ian also mentioned a ‘Communicable Diseases Procedure’ that he was writing and asked if the charity want to look over it and add any information. Well I wasn't going to say no, was I?
I left Ian with a completed order form and a promise that once everything had arrived I would deliver it all to the University. Although I knew that it could have been posted, I thought that delivering it all personally would make the best impression.
The meeting couldn't have gone any better!
A week later, the delivery arrived and I headed back to Keele to host my awareness day.
I made sure that everyone and anyone got a card that day, including the receptionist, a visiting rugby team, and members from another charity who were doing a cake sale, as well as everyone who sat down eating or having a coffee.
Ian came to meet me and thanked me for my help. It really was very easy to do, especially when the subject is something that you really care about.
Following on from my visit to Keele, I received another request for 3,000 symptoms cards and 24 posters and might have the chance to go back for Fresher’s Week!
I thought volunteering would have been much more time consuming, but it's about balancing the time you have spare from the everyday and the time you want to give to volunteering. To quote a famous supermarket 'every little helps'!