Tag Archives: Volunteers

VOLUNTEERS WEEK, HELEN HANCOCKS

I have always hated public speaking before volunteering but it has helped ease my nerves when I do have to speak to a packed audience. I am also more willing at events to go up and introduce myself to people, where as in the past I might have just stayed put in a corner.

I have only been a volunteer for the past two years, but can say it has been great. I have really enjoyed the majority of the experience and have learnt so much from it.


I volunteer for two organisations, Lincoln Film Society and the independent cinema the society screens in, The Venue. The society celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2018 and the Venue is going to be 7 in September.


Although Lincoln Film Society and the Venue are linked I find that the volunteering differs between the two.


With the Lincoln Film Society I have been going for over 14 years, it started with my parents taking me. It was in some ways my education into films and where my interest really started to develop. I had helped on and off since moving back to Lincoln in 2015 and just started to offer my help, until I basically talked my way onto the committee. It was through being part of the society committee that led me to volunteer at The Venue. I had been going to their screening once or twice a week, plus I was always asking what films they were screening next or if they would consider certain films, I think they finally caved in and I was actually asked if I wanted to join their volunteers scheme.


Volunteering for both organisations has taught me a lot, including to be more patient, diplomatic, as well as learning the magic of a spreadsheets! It has boosted my confidence that has fed back to my own work practice. I have always hated public speaking before volunteering but it has helped ease my nerves when I do have to speak to a packed audience. I am also more willing at events to go up and introduce myself to people, where as in the past I might have just stayed put in a corner.


I also enjoy the social side of volunteering. Making new friends with other volunteers, customers, visitors and online through social media. I have enjoyed discussing films and swapping film recommendations with our audiences after screenings. With your regular core audience and members it’s always a pleasure to see them week after week, it’s a bit like an extended family, our own community. Volunteering has made me realise how much film can not only entertain but also teach us, it’s a great resource.


Going to the Cinema For All conference last year was a real eye opener to the good volunteers and film can impact a community, and that’s something to really aspire too in what ever shape or form you can.


Through volunteering I have had the opportunity to help organise special events, which has been great fun but it does makes you realise the time and effort that can go into these things. At times it can be stressful and you do wonder why you bother, it’s just a stupid film after all. But then an audience comes out the screening beaming, saying that’s the best thing they have seen, thanking you – well that’s something magical and you realise that’s why you volunteered the time in the first place.


I think the one thing I have learnt and am still learning is that volunteering is what you make it, you should do it for the right reasons and most importantly it should be enjoyable.

VOLUNTEERS WEEK, SAM WATLING

I’m happier, more confident and am even looking at starting a business to try and enable me to do even more of these events across my city.

I’ve been running Film at the Folk Hall for over 3 years now. I was in a bit of a rut with the work I was doing a few years back and found myself feeling a bit lost and uncertain about the future. A good friend of mine asked if I ever did anything for anyone else or volunteered my time to something. It was a fair question, I felt like my whole life revolved around others but I had little tangible to show for it and it certainly hadn’t been helping my mental state. After a very quick look around my local area I found a Community Cinema struggling to fund itself and in need of support. It was a no brainer. I love movies and I love people and I reached out. Three years on I’m running it and it’s become a complete passion project. With my awesome team of volunteers we have built the audience from an average of 38 to 75 and we’re able to run free social impact events on a regular basis. I’m still doing exactly the same work but now balance has been restored. I’m happier, more confident and am even looking at starting a business to try and enable me to do even more of these events across my city.

Our next screening is First Man and it will be our first ‘Pay it Forward’ event. We won’t be charging a penny for the tickets but will have a collection for York’s Foodbank and will be extending the chance for our audience to go out there and do something good for someone else following the event. It can be anything they want, giving blood, or having a coffee and a chat with a homeless person. Perhaps catching up with an old friend who needs cheering up. Whatever it is, we believe that doing something nice for someone else is win-win every time and has real power in it for both parties involved. We’re asking for our audience to share their ‘Planned-in acts of kindness’ with us so watch this space to see if our little social experiment works!

Find out more about Film at the Folk Hall here.

VOLUNTEERS WEEK, NADINE O’MAHONY

Volunteering has helped me gain confidence and learn new skills. It’s also encouraged me to get out of the house and meet new people as I was beginning to feel quite isolated.

I am a graduate and filmmaker. I recently became unemployed and wanted to volunteer as a way to improve my mental well-being as well as supporting Cinema, which is a passion of mine. I saw a post about Screen B14 on facebook and decided to go along to a meeting.

I am the marketing officer for Screen B14 which means that I am in charge of all the none social media aspects of advertising our group and screenings. This means everything from distributing leaflets to contacting local media outlets and publishing our events on other websites and apps. For example, I recently organised an appearance for us on Brum Radio to talk about Screen B14 and the work we do.

I’ve never done anything marketing related before so one of the challenges was learning about the role and trying to find the best ways to promote our screenings to the local community. Also just having the confidence to engage with people and get them excited about our events.

I think volunteering has helped me gain confidence and learn new skills. It’s also encouraged me to get out of the house and meet new people as I was beginning to feel quite isolated. I’ve also learnt a lot about community cinema and organisation which I hope will help me on future projects.

I would encourage anyone thinking of volunteering to come along and give it a go. The time commitment for me has been minimal and very flexible so I am able to fit it around my regular activities. I’ve also gained a lot of new skills and met lots of different people who all love film and their local community.

VOLUNTEERS WEEK, MAIR CRAIG

For me, the best thing about volunteering is the sense of achievement when we overcome barriers to pull off something amazing.

I’m one of a team of volunteers who run Sinema Sadwrn, a community cinema based in Llansadwrn, west Wales. For such a small place, Llansadwrn has a lot of committees – one for the annual show, one for the Reading Room (our small community hall), a community council and more besides. However, the closure of Llansadwrn school in 2017 was a blow to village life, and setting up Sinema Sadwrn was one of the ways the community reacted to it.

A group of us came together in 2018, keen to offer a new, regular, social event in the village that could bring people of all ages together. It was all hands on deck at the beginning, but with support from people like Cinema for All, we’ve learnt to organise ourselves to make the best use of our different skills and experiences.

Our committee of volunteers includes a Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, marketing officer, technical whizz and me. I look after film programming and licensing. Through volunteering, I’ve built relationships with Film Hub Wales and the BFI amongst others, and developed a broader knowledge of film. I also seek out Welsh-made short films to show before our main features, which involves quite a bit of research – it’s lovely to find new talent ready to share their work. Our village has a mix of English and Welsh speakers and all our posters and programmes are bilingual, so I also take care of any translation work.

For me, the best thing about volunteering is the sense of achievement when we overcome barriers to pull off something amazing. Last summer, we put on a free screening in a marquee on the village field as part of the Llansadwrn ‘big party’. Faced with expensive costs and practical challenges, we turned to the community for support. We raised funds through sponsorship to cover the outdoor license fee and bought some improvised black-out material (garden weed barrier) to convert the marquee into a cinema. It was a busy few weeks and an exhausting day, but I think we all felt proud of our efforts as we sat down to enjoy a cheesy musical with the community.

Volunteering can be hard work – the toughest aspect for me is trying not to overcommit. There have been points where I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, and I’m sure other volunteers have felt the same way. I work full time and fit in cinema commitments around that, so it’s helped me value my time and I’m gradually learning to balance things better. It’s important to know what’s achievable within your means, and to ask for help if you’re struggling. I’m lucky to have a friendly team to fall back on, and we regularly review workloads and responsibilities at our meetings.

It’s really rewarding to feel that we’re working as a team to do something positive for our community, and great to hear from our audience that they like what we’re doing.