Sociable & Enabled
The following paragraphs were written by Laura, one of Bazooka Arts core volunteers, who joined the organisation in February 2019.
I joined the Bazooka Arts Volunteer Group in February 2019, which I believe was near the beginning of the project. I had heard of Bazooka many years ago when I attended an exhibition, so when I saw they were looking for volunteers I was very keen to get involved.
I am not good at putting myself forward for things so applying through the Volunteer Scotland website was much easier than contacting Bazooka directly, which is probably why I haven’t become involved in anything like this over the years. Despite suffering with mental health issues for as long as I can remember, no doctor has ever suggested art therapy or volunteering as a means of self help, but both have helped me immensely. I have had much more consistent support from Kirsty, Zoe, and Bryony in the year that I have known them than I have had from any doctor or therapist through the NHS.
Bazooka is very important to me because I finally feel like I belong somewhere and that I am part of something important. That said, I did not initially join the volunteer group to obtain therapy myself; I wanted to volunteer generally as a way of meeting new people and socialising, then, as soon as I needed some support, Bazooka was there for me, and allowed me to join one of their therapeutic groups.
As a volunteer I have learned many new skills; some of them art related (such as silk painting, wet felting, and needle felting), and some of them more personal (such as friendship forming, healthy boundaries, and trust). Everyone in the group brings different skills and experiences, which we share, so everyone learns from each other. Being part of the group has also taught me some healthy teamwork skills, as we work together to prepare for the pop-up shops. I have social anxiety therefore I have not been as active as I would like in the public-facing aspects of the volunteer group (such as manning the stall and attending fundraising events) but I know that others in the group who are more comfortable with that side of things can be relied upon to help. My skills lie more in organisation, preparation, and tidying up! Perhaps in the future I could be more active in the online selling side of fundraising.
Another project I became involved in was the Theatre Tonic play “St Bell’s Hospital”. Myself and another volunteer initially stepped in as stagehands, then ultimately became part of the show, and I ended up with a speaking role, which I found terrifying! I loved being part of this, and was keen to join the group myself, but unfortunately work commitments meant I would have been unable to attend regularly. I would love to help out again if they need support in a future project. Similarly, I would have liked to be involved in the All Stars drama group, but it runs at the same time I lead a walking group in my hometown, which is something else I volunteer to do. Volunteering has enriched my life in so many ways, and has boosted my self esteem and my mood generally.
I feel like part of something important with my Bazooka family. This has become even more apparent during the recent coronavirus crisis; we have been unable to meet, but Bazooka has kept in contact and offered me support. I can’t wait until the groups start running again, but for now I will continue to contribute by working on little projects at home, and then return with renewed enthusiasm once we are able to meet again.