It’s Volunteers’ Week, and it’s a time to celebrate people who all over the country give their time freely for a good cause. At Slipstreamers, we have well over 70 Volunteers last time we counted – but when we take into account our ad hoc parent helpers who also volunteer “unofficially” this takes us well over circa 90. Not everyone can volunteer full-time or be at the Club every single Saturday. Volunteers have families, careers, hobbies – but one thing is for certain…
What brings every single volunteer together is the vision we all hold dear – at Slipstreamers it’s all about bringing community cycling to children, and ensuring our members enjoy the best possible experiences and opportunities as they grow and develop on their respective journeys. Everyone has different reasons for volunteering – read here for a few from our regular helpers. Every volunteer makes a difference – and in the words of Parent Volunteer Jim Murphy (pictured on the right), “Some do a little and a little do a lot and in the end most things get done so that must be good!”
We asked a few of our very busy parent helpers to share a bit about their volunteering. This is what they had to say…
By Sonia Kemlyani, Emil’s Mum
My contribution to the club is that I am able to provide first aid support to the club where possible and necessary. As an A&E nurse with 25 years experience, I hope that the knowledge and experience I have gained from my job over the years can help the club and volunteers. I also hope that this provides some reassurance if something big actually happens. All the volunteer first aiders are very competent and do an excellent job but sometimes it helps to have someone “in the know” who will step in and support when uncertainty arises over an incident.
As a volunteer, I have also started to do Emergency Life Support skills training within the club for the children. The Hillingdon members who are part of the British Cycling Young Volunteers programme are learning CPR, the recovery position, management of wounds and how to apply slings to name a few things. Developing a critical mass of people who can act when something happens is crucial and educating young people is incredibly important to achieving this goal. It has a direct impact on the quality/ speed of recovery for the casualty if people can act swiftly and appropriately. I believe that equipping children with these skills is an important life skill. It also builds confidence, instils responsibility and teaches them how to work together for the benefit of somebody else.
My son has been a member since he was 9yrs old and loves the club. He has benefited hugely from the time, patience, effort, skills and knowledge of all the people that have supported him. My contribution is a small token to say thank you!
By Elisabeth Van Der Weit, Rizwan’s Mum
I came to the Slipstreamers along with my son Rizwan Hameed who wanted to be a member and indulge in his passion for cycling. I have to bring him to the club and to kill time I started walking around the Minet Park. Being desk bound during the week while at work I used the opportunity to walk round the Park, regularly doing at least 10,000 steps.
I could not resist indulging in my own passion for photographs and found ready-made subjects in the cyclists who go tearing round the circuit. I gradually got involved in doing little jobs, such as checking the track for glass and other hazards before start of sessions and sweeping the track. A puncture is a nuisance for any cyclist. I have been a marshal but one with a camera in my hand which forces me to stay put in one place, a definite disadvantage when it comes to taking photos. I enjoy making photos and helping out.
Cycling can be risky at times and injuries do happen. To make myself useful while I am around I did the First Aid course. I have been doing other voluntary work for the PTA at Rizwan’s school where I was the Secretary some years ago. I am also the Treasurer in a work related Society. So I have to spread my time between different activities. As a busy person I cannot commit to full time volunteering.
Hence, doing a bit here and there is a good way to connect with others and help out.
By Isabelle Garcia, Rafael’s Mum
As a parent of a Slipstreamers member, I wanted to be more involved in the life of the Club, not only because I felt responsible to do so – in the same way that I feel responsible to be involved in the school life of my children – but also because I wanted to be part of Slipstreamers Family and enjoy its every moment and success. So I joined the team of volunteers this year, and it has been fun so far!
I have learnt so much already through this volunteering and I came to know great people. It is a pleasure and I look forward to every occasion to help the Club. It does not take much time and there are many ways that, as parent, we can help and contribute to the life of the Club. I recently took pictures during the last Time Trial event organized by Slipstreamers; it was really nice to see all the children participating and in action through the lens of the camera.
Come and join us, and see for yourself.
By Tom Hewson, Savannah & Peter’s Dad
Having 4 kids has meant that I have never been able to commit to a week in / week out volunteer role at Slipstreamers. To be honest I have felt a little guilty about that, especially seeing so many of the same faces do so much for our fantastic club. (Where would be without them?!!!). However, over the years Dave, Asti and John Gunn have been amazingly gracious about it and happy to find one-off roles, here and there, where I can get involved. I was a little intimidated at first but have actually loved it.
The National Youth Series rolls through once a year and is fantastic day. From literally future Olympians to 8 year olds learning to race, it is a jamboree of fun. For the first year or two, I showed up at 7.30AM and just helped set up and do some marshalling. The team atmosphere amongst the Slipstreamer parents and older kids who were running the day was great. It is probably the most involved in the club I have ever felt.
Later, after watching the the team recording laps, I was given a clipboard, taught how to judge and helped with the younger races until my kids came to the start line. Food, drinks and laughs were all on tap for us.
I can’t say I am the most involved parent. I certainly don’t know hardly any names of the others. But this was a great to meet people in the club, have fun and do my bit to make it all work. Honestly, setting up, tearing down, marshalling and judging even once a year, or on Monday nights summer racing, is way more fun on the inside than it might look from the outside. Give it a go!
By Katrina McGrath, Nicholas & Paul’s Mum
The club is very welcoming so that was a good start, then at the weekly awards and news end of the session, leaders were quite clear that they needed extra people to run events safely and that full training would be given. So even though being a race judge is overwhelming at first with all the numbers, I was shown how to do it and supported, so it became really good fun. Marshalling has a clear safety imperative but again, you get shown what to do and you operate as part of a team. And people say thank you!
I would encourage other parents who can’t commit to full time volunteering, to offer their skills/ time and help out when you can. Think of yourself as part of the strength in depth of the club-the person who can step up when needed because you have the confidence and the support to be an active part of a strong club. I love saying hello to people now who I’ve met this way.
By Charlotte Brown, James’s Mum
My son James has been a member of Hillingdon Slipstreamers for two years and loves it! I have been involved in sport and various clubs for many years and appreciate the unseen effort which goes in to the seamless operation of club sessions and races which members enjoy. As time has progressed I have become confident that the Coaching Team really look after our children and I have no need to be constantly watching and worrying.
Therefore I found that I have time on my hands and decided to volunteer to help in some small way. Knowing that I am contributing to the operation of our Club is reward enough, but the relationships which I am building with parents and the riders are an unexpected bonus.
It works for me! I would encourage anyone who has the time, to explore the opportunities and small tasks which assist the smooth running of the Club and get involved. The Club functions really well but if every task is left to “the few” then it is a strain on a willing but hard working resource. You will enjoy it, I know I do.
By Emma Emment, Maddie & Oliver’s Mum
We joined Slipstreamers just after the 2012 boom and the club was looking for people to help. So I began volunteering as I found once the kids had signed in I was hanging around. I like to be busy so was happy to help.
I took on the role of Sign on Manager which I thoroughly enjoyed. As the kids cycled nearly every Saturday I did this for all most 2 years. It gave me an insight into the hundreds of things that go on in the background, that no one sees, that make Saturday mornings work so well. I have also helped out with Monday night racing and getting Trophies for the Summer Series 2015 and the Inter-Club time trial and also Nationals, which is a fantastic day.
It is great to be part of the army of volunteers at Slipstreamers, seeing process put in place to make it easy for the kids to sign on, producing their certificates and acknowledging their achievements make it worthwhile. Since September last year I haven’t been able to help as much as I was, due to the kids involvement in other sports. I do help when I can and know, however little I do, it is appreciated.
If you are unsure of getting involved, don’t be. However little you can do, will be a lot in the volunteering world – and if no one stepped up there would be no club.
We can never say THANK YOU enough to ALL the Volunteers who help keep the club running – whether it’s an hour a week, at the occasional event, or all the time; you quite simply are the best.
If you want to find out more about how you are able to contribute as a Volunteer and what we need help with, please reach out and speak to Philip Coleman (Volunteer Coordinator/ Vice Chairman) or Asti (Young Volunteer Coordinator/ Admin & Membership); or do feel free to talk to any one of the Admin Team or Club Committee who will be able to assist you. And if you don’t know who they are, click here to meet the team, or have a look at the posters on the Clubhouse notice board for who’s who.