Every month, Octopus Giving recognises the team or individual who has done great things by giving up their time to volunteer for charity. December’s ‘Volunteer of the Month’ award went to Hannah Welch. Hannah is the Lead Receptionist at the Octopus head office in Holborn. She now gets to donate £500 to the charity of her choice.
Why did you decide to start volunteering?
I love helping people, so volunteering comes naturally to me. My husband jokes that I like to get involved in everything!
Working at the Octopus front desk means I often hear colleagues talk about the charities they want to help. And it got me thinking of how I could help, too.
Did you volunteer at a particular event to earn the Volunteer of the Month award?
There’s not one particular event that earned me the award. It’s just a matter of having conversations and listening for opportunities to make a contribution wherever I can.
Over the past year, I’ve helped a number of charities, including:
- Anthony Nolan: which is dedicated to saving the lives of people with blood cancer
- Magic Breakfast: which gives healthy breakfasts to vulnerable UK schoolchildren
- Octopus for a Preemie: which donates knitted octopuses to premature children
- Chipping Barnet Food Bank: which is working to combat hunger and poverty
- The Choir with No Name: which organises choirs and fundraising events for people affected by homelessness
For example, I arranged a private meeting room where a stem cell donor from our office could have an appointment with a nurse. We learned how difficult it is to find new stem cell donors.
So, we organised a charity donor run and an awareness campaign for Anthony Nolan.
Can you tell us about volunteering you’ve done?
For me, volunteering is all about having a ‘yes, we can’ attitude. We donate our office space on Mondays and Fridays, so I book meeting rooms and make sure charities feel welcomed as guests.
I also find ways to reuse what would otherwise end up in landfill. If it’s useful, why throw it in the bin?
I collect milk bottles from the office and donate them on my way home. We launder and donate leftover property – like suits – to people who need them.
And when our office went paperless, I donated folders to smaller charities like Beyond Autism and South London Cares. I’ve also helped with a Christmas collection for Chipping Barnet Food Bank. Even small things can make a big difference.
Has there been a particularly memorable volunteering experience?
A colleague told me about a charity called Octopus for a Preemie. They’re a tiny charity that crochets octopuses for premature babies. Their tentacles are comforting because they feel like umbilical cords.
I helped to collect and donate loads of Octopus merchandise that was lying around the office. Octopus for a Preemie used our donation to raise money and awareness.
It just goes to show that something positive can come out of anything.
Have you decided where your £500 donation will go?
I haven’t yet! I need to have a really good think about it. But I’d like the money to go to a small charity, where it can make a real difference.
Have you got a message for anyone who hasn’t volunteered before?
There are so many good reasons to get involved. Volunteering is so rewarding. If you can’t afford to give money, giving time is just as valuable.
Once you get started, you’ll want to find new charities to help.