"Volunteering at LGBT Foundation has added to my confidence and self-esteem as a gay man and a human being."

"I felt welcome, I felt accepted and not judged."

My name’s Paul and I’m 63. I recently moved to Manchester about 6 months ago, and I’m gay.

I found out about LGBT Foundation by searching on the internet. I was looking for some support in North Wales and found nothing. I found a group in Chester that wasn’t appropriate so I rang the London Switchboard. They were searching for me but found nothing, so then I found the Manchester connection.

I got into volunteering by accessing services at LGBT Foundation. I came here in crisis, and I had an assessment and a crisis plan, following which I was referred to a Support Worker at LGBT Foundation. They then suggested volunteering to me once I got myself settled in the area. So, I volunteer on the Front Desk once a week. I offer support on reception, welcome visitors and let staff know if there is someone here to see them, ask them if they’d like tea or coffee and tell them about the building and explain where toilets and facilities are. I generally make sure that they are comfortable and feel welcome, which is how I was received. I felt welcome, I felt accepted and not judged.

I asked if there was something else I could do, and there was! I work with LGBT Foundation’s Ambition for Ageing team and support by inputting data, demographic and satisfaction questionnaires from people that may have attended training sessions or functions run by Ambition for Ageing or other LGBT Foundation teams such as Pride in Practice. This helps with data collection and producing reports, and keep funders informed about their project’s achievements.

My favourite part of volunteering at LGBT Foundation is being welcome, accepted and feeling part of a team. As a volunteer, I feel I am treated equally to paid staff. Also, I enjoy the Volunteer Socials! There are also opportunities for training, plus being on the inside a little bit you find out more about what’s going on and what else is available.

Volunteering at LGBT Foundation has added to my confidence and self-esteem as a gay man and as a human being. It’s given me the belief that it’s never too late to either come out or offer yourself and your experience to help other people. I can also bring my own personal qualities including my experience of face-to-face support, supporting people who have been or are in stressful situations and need support. I am really keen to contribute what I have to offer and for it to be channelled into other areas of volunteering too.

If people are thinking of volunteering at LGBT Foundation, I’d say just do it! There’s no harm in asking, there’s information on the website about the opportunities available and it’s very easy to get in touch. There’s also no obligation that you have to follow through on anything. There have been a couple of things I’ve attended and I haven’t felt obliged to commit at all. In fact I’ve just been thanked for my attendance and it’s also helped me to inform other people. If you’re interested and fancy getting involved, just get in touch!