Another of the volunteers around the country for ‪#‎VolunteersWeek‬ where we celebrate the work of ‪#‎BloodBikes‬.
Kirsty Lawrence, 27 years old, Community Champion at Tesco Consett Genesis Extra. Volunteer Shift Controller, Fundraiser and Publicity Officer for Northumbria Blood Bikes.
I’m responsible for… My day job consists of supporting my local community in a variety of ways. My main responsibilities are managing donation and bag packing requests, supporting people who have asked for help with projects or events, looking after our in store community space and I am also a Farm to Fork Trail Guide so teach primary school children about where their food comes from. Not only do I help people who seek my support but I try to actively look for people who I could help. I first came across Northumbria Blood Bikes when attending a local event called Bikewise which is ran by Durham Police Constabulary in 2014. After spotting their gazebo and reading the information on the pull-up banners I was immediately intrigued. One very interesting and informative conversation with their volunteers later I found myself starting on my journey of joining as a member. At first I had only planned on supporting through my job role, then found myself in awe of the fantastic work they all do, this lead to my interest in becoming a volunteer outside of my job role.
I got my job… I actually applied and attended an interview to work in the petrol filling station or on a checkout. My interviewer mentioned the community champion role which to me sounded like an interesting challenge. When I was offered the job I immediately accepted without really knowing what it would involve to that extent. As I’d been unsuccessful of getting a job in Graphic Design, once I had graduated in 2010, I had turned to working in hospitality for 7 years. There came a point when I knew I needed to change direction and wanted to do something with my life that made a difference. As a community champion I’ve come across some amazing people that I would never have noticed while stuck behind a bar or waiting tables. Since joining Northumbria Blood Bikes I feel part of something that makes such an impact to people lives by providing a service that saves lives everyday. I originally became a member of Northumbria Blood Bikes with the aim of just being a fundraiser. That didn’t last too long as I soon found myself training to be a shift controller and now I am planning on doing my advance driving. People may think that they need to be a biker in order to join as a volunteer but I have never even sat on a moving bike as a passenger. You are able to volunteer as a shift controller, fundraiser, driver or a rider and commit to as much or as little of your time that you have to give.
My typical day… No two days at work are ever the same for me. It’s one of the hardest things I find about my job is trying to explain it to people and them being able to fully understand how many different things I do in my role. One day I am litter picking the local cycle track and the next I could be supporting a skincare and make-up masterclass for ladies undergoing treatment for cancer with the charity Look Good Feel Better (registered charity number 1031728). Diversity of tasks keeps it fresh for me as I’m not somebody who is able to sit still doing the same thing day in and day out. My role is very flexible which means I am able to easily fit volunteering in around my working life.
My most memorable work moment… When I think of the most memorable work moment that would have to be when 600+ motorbikes started their engines as they were about to set off on the Easter Egg run 2015. In the lead up to Easter Sunday my colleague and I had 250 Easter Eggs donated by our generous customers to give to the children’s ward at our local hospitals. The run had been organised by one of the members of blood bike group BloodrunEVS and we were invited along to help take our collected eggs to the children in hospital. I had never felt the ground tremor with such force until they prepared to set off on the run. The effort each of these bikers put into their costumes as well as how far they had travelled just to join in shows how caring people really are in the biking community.
My most memorable moment for Northumbria Blood Bikes would have to be meeting Mo Farrah and having a TV interview with the BBC at the start line of the Great North Run 2015 while dressed in costume as a Blood Bike. I might not believe in a runners high but the whole route of the GNR I had people shouting that they had seen me on TV that morning. Knowing the millions of people watching it had heard about Blood Bikes made me feel incredibly proud.
The worst part of my job… The worst part of my job is that there are too many people out there that could use some support. There isn’t enough hours in the day or money in the budget to help every single person. I now find myself very much aware of the daily struggles people face after having my eyes opened through my job. I find it hard to switch off which is why I always find myself busy doing something either work or volunteer related.
The best part of my job… Life as a community champion can be very emotional and quite stressful as it is a role that you need to be very self motivating. It also brings the joy of knowing you are helping your community by simply lending a hand to people in need. The best part of being a volunteer for blood bikes is that you are a part of a vital service that will save peoples lives and one day that could be one of your loved ones or even yourself.
After work… Once I get in from work it’s time to make a fuss of my beloved dog Dexter and I always have a craft hobby on the go. Wherever possible I try to cover a shift controller shift and I find myself coming up with ideas to raise funds for the blood bikes, and of course telling the world all about our work as the group Publicity Officer.