"Volunteering gives me the opportunity to be a bit extroverted at Events such as Pride."

"If you are feeling a bit isolated volunteering can be a great way to relieve that."

I’m Ian, I’m 69 and will be 70 next month. I worked for 42 years in the Civil Service; a life sentence, I know! I retired at 60 and had a few jobs before finally finishing paid work at 65. I was in a Civil Partnership from 2001 until 2013 when unfortunately my late partner Alan passed away. We had 12 and a half good years together. Apart from volunteering with LGBT Foundation I like walking, reading, visiting places of interest and concerts, but the big one for me at the moment is my Open University Social Science Degree. I’m just coming up to the end of year 5.

I’ve been volunteering with LGBT Foundation since it was the LGF and was located near the old BBC building in Manchester. I came out in 1999, and along the way I supported one World AIDS Day where I did a collection for selling red ribbons at work for what was the LGF. When I retired from work I thought a way of occupying my time (apart from Alan of course) and other interests, was to look into further volunteering with LGBT Foundation to put a bit back into the LGBT community.

My Archive volunteering role is based at Central Library. There’s a team of three of us and we input the archive material in various areas. I’ve been looking at HIV and AIDS and am currently moving on to Trans material. We upload the material to systems that mean the public will be able to access it. Along the way there have been an interactive exhibition commemorating World AIDS Day a couple of years ago and also hands-on sessions as well where the public can come along and ask questions. We have a very good working relationship with the library staff there. Eventually, when all the material is catalogued (there’s still a way to go!), we will look to doing some research because along the way we have assisted University researchers with signposting to support their projects.

There are two strands that I think of when I consider the best part of volunteering at LGBT Foundation; teamwork and the element of fun! Volunteering gives me the opportunity to be a bit extroverted at Events such as Pride. Also there’s a slightly more serious note; volunteering gives me the chance to help the community and raise the profile of LGBT Foundation. I also volunteer in the role of LGBT Foundation representative on the Wigan Pride committee. I support to make sure we have representation at Community Pride events such as Wigan and Bury Pride. They are a vital part of our work.

Volunteering gives me a fixed point in the week. It also gives me useful insight into LGBT material and issues. On occasion I have been able to use it in connection with my Open University studies.

If you’re thinking of volunteering at LGBT Foundation, first of all I would say make the step. Remember that there’s support there, team leaders, staff members, supervisors, you name it. There’s a good atmosphere and social aspects too. If you are feeling a bit isolated volunteering can be a great way to relieve that.