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.