A journey to Volunteer Mentoring

Celebrating Volunteers Week Scotland 2016

Filed under News
Date posted: Wednesday, 01 June 2016

During Volunteer Week Scotland 2016, we're going to be spotlighting volunteer experiences from throughout the Clyde and Avon Valley. First up, we hear from Alex Crossan, a Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) Environmental Volunteer and Volunteer Mentor.

My time at Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) has been a great experience, I have learned so much. My confidence has grown and I have been involved in a lot of landscaping projects such as planting trees with protective covers and wooden stakes for support. I have also been involved with garden tidy’s using spades, hand saws, wheelbarrows etc. Staff have also showed me how to lay down mypex before gravelling an area.

I have also been involved in the cutting of willow, with staff showing me how to use loppers and the correct way to cut the willow. Recently I have also been involved in building the log cabin at CCI. I have learned how to shave the logs using a tool called a Spoke Shave A Blade (very sharp!). Staff instructed me on the correct use of the blade and how to remove the bark.

During my time at CCI taking part in environmental activities I have been training in building fences using plumb level, pinch bar, placing of a wooden stab and a tool called a fencing mell. The mell requires considerable strength to lift and swing which is need to make direct contact with the top of the wooden stab, to drive it into the required position. Once all the stabs are in place, staff have showed me the correct way I should measure and cut the wooden slats with the handsaw and how to use the claw hammer to drive nails in. Another useful tool I was trained to use was a round shaped cylinder with metal handles. The cylinder is placed over the stab and is then lifted and forced down striking the stab to the depth required.

I have also spent time in the CCI woodcraft workshop which I found very enjoyable and received lots of training in the proper use of woodwork tools and machinery. For example, I was shown the correct procedure for using the band saw, I was taught how to use the blade tensioner to tighten the blade to the required setting, how to adjust the table and how to change the blade and adjust blade spacers. I’ve also been shown how to use the circular saw to cut wood of different lengths, how to adjust the saw guard, how to secure the wood while cutting and learned that the opening of the suction sleeves withdraws sawdust when the circular saw is in use. I have also been trained to use the mechanical wood planter, mortiser tool, wooden chisel and mallet, and the router which I used to create a nice pattern on the woodface. I have really enjoyed the training and building in the workshop using all the tools and machinery.

As my training continues I am progressing more and more with my communication skills. I am now very happy to get the opportunity to work alongside staff to help school children take part in projects from planting seeds to building wooden planters. This is a huge step for me, I am doing things now I would never have thought possible. When you put your mind to work, you can do anything. My training is boosting myself up to the next level, recently I completed the Leadership Skills training delivered by TCV at CCI and received my certificate of achievement for this course.

CCI has given me the opportunity to expand, broaden my horizons and at this moment in time I am enjoying what I do best. It’s funny how things work out but with the right people and the training at hand, miracles can happen. I have went from being at death’s door to a very proud man with a great CV and thanks to CCI I have a terrific future in front of me.

At this moment in time I am feeling great and ready to move on from voluntary work into paid employment doing the same work if possible. I don’t have a computer but I can use the library computers to job search now that I have the motivation to take the next step. During my time at CCI have took part in different projects and mentored participants which makes me more determined to put myself back on track and seek employment. I now have the faith and commitment to climb to the top of the ladder.

Life is too short and unpredictable. I got the chance, the tools and the training to send this message to all that suffer from depression and feel like it’s over. Never give up, have faith and courage to dig your heels in. I am a shining example of what can be achieved and so proud to be a volunteer mentor making a difference to other CCI participants, giving the care and understanding. It’s been a long journey but a successful one.

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