Cornelia, who is 63 and retired, volunteers for Variety in the programmes team. Having previously worked as a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) in Steiner schools, she has an extensive background of supporting families that have children with special educational needs.

Three years into her retirement, Cornelia began to feel a desire to continue using her professional skills and knowledge, but in a different capacity. With more free time to offer, she also felt called to give back to society and help those less fortunate. There was perhaps an element of ‘peer pressure’ too – many of her friends are active volunteers.

One such friend persuaded Cornelia to attend a volunteering fair, which is what drew her to Variety. She was attracted by the cheerful, friendly, positive people staffing the Variety stand. Having approached several charities, she was also impressed by how speedily Variety responded to her application with an interview request. In addition, Variety had office-based roles on offer, which strongly appealed to Cornelia.

Her primary role at Variety is to manage the first stage of grant applications. As part of this process, she captures beneficiaries’ stories onto the computer systems. This creates a library of case study material, a truly valuable resource for the charity. The stories are then used for a range of purposes, including communications and fundraising.

Cornelia has a full life and many interests, such as playing the violin in a string quartet. However, her activities tend to be evening and weekend-based, so volunteering helps to give more structure to her weekdays and gets her ‘out of the house’.

The volunteering role provides Cornelia with opportunities to grow and learn new skills and develop an insight into the lives of families with disabled or disadvantaged children. She also enjoys the social aspect of her role at Variety – the camaraderie of a busy office environment, and being part of a team.

I’ve been made to feel very valued and welcome. Variety staff are wonderfully supportive of volunteers of a ‘certain age’. You’re not left alone to battle with systems that are above your head, and training and ongoing help are readily available. Ultimately, I’ve found volunteering for Variety a worthwhile, meaningful opportunity, where I can make a real difference to children, even though I’m not in direct contact with them.

Cornelia, Variety volunteer

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with Variety.

A huge thank you to all our volunteers who give their time to help support the children and families we work with.