We talked to Mark about his volunteering experience with Ataxia UK…
How long have you been volunteering with Ataxia UK?
I started assisting in March 2020 (at the time of the first lockdown!)
What made you become a volunteer?
I worked in hotels for 32 years and my last role was as the General Manager of a Hotel in Dubai. These roles involved a lot of organisation and planning and the need for efficient administration – and so, having developed those skills, I was keen to help out wherever and with whatever I could. I was diagnosed with SCA28 in February 2019 and on returning to the UK, it was a natural step to channel that into assisting Ataxia UK.
Have you been a volunteer before your role with Ataxia UK?
No – after school and university I worked up until summer 2019 and only started helping with Ataxia UK on my return to the UK.
How was the starting process of becoming a volunteer?
It was easy – there was a chat with James, some forms to fill in, an induction session and some online learning was offered.
How have you found your volunteering experience with Ataxia UK so far?
Very good and very easy. One of the stated values of Ataxia UK is that they “value everyone who contributes to our work”. Although my role is very small and the time I am required to volunteer is very small, both Anastasia and James make a point of thanking you and making your contribution feel useful.
What have you gained from volunteering?
As well as my help being appreciated, one aspect of my working life – a development need – has always been patience and the need to get things done and boxed-off quickly, and this role has continued to help me accept that everyone has different priorities. We are all unique with differing needs. It has also given me the chance to interact with others with similar diagnoses.
Would you recommend others to become a volunteer with Ataxia UK?
Absolutely – because you can offer as much or as little time as you want, whatever fits in with you, whilst contributing to something that helps.
Want to volunteer with Ataxia UK? See our current volunteering opportunities here. We’d love to hear from you!