The date is still in my diary. Thursday, 2nd March, 2017. I had had the stroke a year before, I had been volunteering with the Stroke Association since christmas, and they suggested I attend a seminar. Always willing to learn some more, I agreed.
When I went along, I found role-playing instead. Let’s pretend we’ve had a stroke. So, how useful do you think I found that? Still, I like to be polite, so I thanked them, and went on my merry way, not betraying my thought that the event had been a complete waste of my time. I did, however, make a mental note to be more judicious in future.
And, in fact, in those early days, I was burned again. Not only by the Stroke Association, but also by people at the hospital, where I was meant to be training alongside the staff. People seem to feel generally that, when you do something voluntarily, that your time doesn’t matter to you.
2020. I’m a lot firmer now, in both what I think and what I say. I’m a lot more able to say, Nope, I will not allow you to waste my time.
About a month ago, the current co-ordinator said she would like me to attend another course. I felt lukewarm toward the idea but played along. She said that they wanted to talk about the GDPR. General Data Protection Regulations. On such a topic, I do actually need to be up to speed, so I showed willing. I was a bit baffled about the timing – the Regs came into force in mid-2018, so why leave it until now to say anything?
Yesterday, I received an agenda for this course/meeting. Item One: who are the Stroke Association? Item Two: what doees volunteering for the Stroke Assiciation actually entail? In fact, the meeting had also been entitled Volunter Induction Course. Induction? For somebody who’d been working with them for more than three years? For someone whose last stint of voluntary work was just last week? And, I’m sure you will have guessed by now, not a mention of the GDPR, although I’m sure it would’ve come up as a five-second aside.
There was another funny. A lot of stroke survivors, myself included, are left disabled. Climbing flights of stairs can be a problem – it is for me and thank goodness I live in a single-storey house.
The agenda for this meeting also said that it was taking place in a room on the third storey, and that the building had no elevator. So there is a problem straight away – how am I going to get there? It is not just getting up there – I would make it eventually, I’m sure – but what if the building had to be evacuated while I were up there? By the time I got out (if I got out), I can pretty much guarantee I would be somewhat crispier!
So not only am I left thinking that the course actually isn’t relevant, but that the charity has made it unncessarily difficult for me to attend. So, I declined the meeting. This is voluntary work, after all, I am doing it because I want to be involved. There is no obligation on either of us.
I got a very flippant email this morning, saying that the GDPR bit was included, and it was important that I go. And besides, they would provide lunch so what more could I want?! (Honest, she said that.)
So I was left a little incredulous. They organise this meeting that they say they want me to attend, and yet they put obstacles in my way to prevent me from attending. I mean, I could understand the public at large being ignorant of a stroke survivor’s plight, but not really the main stroke charity. And that last line tipped the balance.
I decided that there was no point pussy-footing around here, One or two things these last few months, I feel like I am almost on a collision course with them, so I have just said outright that I’m not prepared to volunteer for them any more. Solves their problem, solves mine. So that is that. Fini. No more Stroke Association, no more GDPR*. In fact, I spent a pretty sleepless night last night worrying about it, and this is just voluntary work, it has no right to stop me from sleeping.
* except that I need to be aware of it for my other charity stuff.
I suppose on a practical note, there are a couple of things I now need to update – this blog being one. There are a few notices I put on the site about volunteeering for them, which I’ll need to fix as I find, and put into th past tense.
What a situation! I would think that they – as the Stroke Association – would be aware of some difficulties people encounter (like the stairs) but when not, that they would be delighted to get some useful tips how to improve the situation!
You are a very good writer, I laughed so hard with the ‘crispier’ part (for the way you said it, not what it is about).
Is it the work you do at the hospital with people who are recovering?
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Precisely – they should have known better. Yes, it is the work at the hospital.
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