Brixton Windmill Centre Volunteer
Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I’ve been working for a general builder, whose ethos is to try and recycle as much as possible. We tend to travel everywhere we can by bicycle in order to be as low emission as possible. This fits in with my values and gives me plenty of time to do other things. I’m learning many different things, which all help my skillset.
I’ve also been helping out at a friend’s Sound and AV company, where we film pre-recorded live music and put on livestreams.
Aside from that, I’ve been keeping myself busy, helping out around the estate, doing the house up and helping out on the allotments.
I like the fact that everyday is a school day, as I’m learning plenty and it involves doing different things.
I’ve also been learning new skills at the Brockwell Green Woodworking Group, in the community gardens. We mainly make spoons and bowls out of logs. The most interesting thing is meeting people from all walks of life. It’s inspiring.
What sort of volunteering work do you do with FoWG?
Anything that is required really. I do a bit of handyman work, both in the visitor centre and around Windmill Gardens. I’ve helped with loading the grain into the mill, and watering the gardens during dry patches. I’m also a key holder as I live very close by, so can help open and lock up after the centre has been hired out.
I admire the people that run the cafe, as there are sometimes patches where it’s not busy. I’m not really suited to this, as I like to be constantly doing things that have an end result.
How did you get into volunteering with FoWG?
I worked for 25 years in the Theatre industry in the West End. We were all made redundant last year and this gave me an extra 55-60 hours a week where I could put my energy elsewhere. I’ve lived on the estate for 21 years and always had it in my mind to see what was going on locally, in order to see if I could help out and meet new people. However, I never had the time or the energy left at the end of the week.
The windmill seemed the obvious choice, because let’s face it… it’s cool as…😜
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
Meeting people in the local area and hearing their stories. I also like having a refreshed purpose, during what’s been a pretty shoddy year. Using the skills and contacts that I’ve built up over the years has also been very important, as it’s meant that things can get done in a safe and efficient manner. It also keeps me sharp.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to volunteer?
Ask questions, learn new things, work out what you think you can both give and take from the experience. Just do it. Now’s the time!
How do you feel you have benefited from volunteering with FoWG?
I’ve met some really great people, who’ve become good friends. I’ve learned a great deal, both in physical skills and a lot about myself.
Can you say a bit about how Covid-19 has affected you, and your hopes for future work with FoWG?
Covid has been a game changer. It’s shocked me out of my safe zone and made me have to confront issues I’ve had, both in a personal and professional sense.
As for the future, I’m not going to worry about it. Every day brings new challenges. I’ll just face them and see what I can do to help.
Finally, tell us a surprising fact about the windmill that people may not know.
The windmill’s secret name for itself is Ellen MacArthur…
I know ‘cos she likes a big sail….😜