Volunteer Stories: Theatre background volunteer now acts as a helping hand in Leeds

This blog is part of a series that celebrates the stories of the amazing Community Care Volunteers that have been supporting vulnerable people across Leeds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read their stories and find out more about the people who have been uplifting their communities.

Zoe Arnison decided to become a Community Care Volunteer at Hope Project when she was furloughed from the pub she works at. Her other job was as a casual worker at the West Yorkshire Playhouse but as it has been closed during Coronavirus, she wanted to give her time to something else she really enjoys — volunteering.

Zoe discusses how COVID-19 has impacted her life and what volunteering within the Temple Newsam area has meant to her.


What are your current circumstances:

I have been furloughed at the pub I work at and because my work with West Yorkshire Playhouse was casual, with it being closed, I have not had work there either. I live with my parents, so financially I’ve been okay in the crisis.


Why did you decide to become a Community Care Volunteer?

I’ve done a lot of volunteering at West Yorkshire Playhouse, within schools, and at Cub Scouts.  I get so much enjoyment out of volunteering, it almost feels selfish sometimes! I even feel that I get more out of it than I give.

Temple Newsam is a strange ward, it has very wealthy and very poor areas, but I’m learning that it’s not as clear as that. There are pockets of more affluent and more deprived areas where you wouldn’t really think. It makes me realise you really can’t make a judgement.


What volunteer role are you doing?

I do leaflet drops, food parcel preparation and deliveries and I do shops for people. I sometimes pick up prescriptions and deliver them to people’s homes.

Zoe and the Hope Project team 

How has volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis made you feel?

Generally people have been really grateful and I have enjoyed the experience.

I did have one really embarrassing moment one day when I knocked on the door of the wrong house and tried to deliver food parcels. After the initial confusion,the woman who answered the door had a really long conversation with me. I told her what I was doing and she since has signed up as a volunteer herself! I’ve always been double careful to check the address after that though!


Have you had any previous experience as a volunteer?

I volunteered in schools to help out with drama workshops with young people. I also volunteered for West Yorkshire Playhouse and the cub scouts teaching people how to tie knots and light fires!

I really enjoy working with young people, I have also volunteered with Heydays - a project ran by the West Yorkshire Playhouse for over 55’s, I really enjoyed that too.


What’s your message for anyone thinking about volunteering?

“If you have the time and the means just do it. The type of person that volunteering attracts makes for a really safe space, so have the confidence to take the first step and just do it”.


The Community Care Volunteering Programme is not currently accepting applications from new volunteers but there are still lots of other volunteering opportunities available in Leeds. To find out more, please visit https://doinggoodleeds.org.uk/i-want-to-volunteer/

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