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RNLI Branch Secretary Nicola Barker-Harrison

Ever find yourself wondering if you have time to volunteer? Teacher Nicola explains how she combines volunteering with a busy full-time job.

Fundraising Volunteer Nicola

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

What does the role of branch secretary involve? 

Lots of things! Everything from liaising with the other emergency services before our annual open day and doing risk assessments, to sending out thank you letters after an event. Plus whatever else needs doing on the day. Anything goes, whether that’s flipping burgers or painting children’s faces!

What are the other volunteers like? 

Volunteering is a team effort and my team are brilliant. We all have a good laugh together. I’ve got to know them so well and we’ve become firm friends. We look out for each other and all care about the same thing – our community.

What’s the best thing about being a fundraising volunteer?

I’m really proud to be part of the RNLI’s fundraising crew. The charity does a lot of work to keep people safe and I’m very passionate about the work we do. The fact that it is a voluntary service is really important. I hope the tiny part I play makes a difference in some way, and that to me is enough.

What difference do you think you’re making?

By being involved I am helping to make sure we do all we can to save every one, not just where I live. By volunteering as a fundraiser I’m not being a passive bystander. I’m taking an active role, playing my part.

How do you fit volunteering around your other work?

I have a very busy full-time job. If you’re honest about the amount of time you can give, I find people are very understanding. It may be just an hour here or a half hour there. It’s about everybody helping out and recognising that some people may only be able to give an hour here or there. At certain points you may be able to give more time, and at others less.

How important is it to have previous fundraising experience?

For most volunteer roles you don’t need any prior experience. You just need to be willing to give things a shot when you’re asked, and to try your best. There’s something for everybody.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering as a fundraiser but isn’t sure?

I’d say if you’re thinking about volunteering, even just a little bit, give it a shot. You never know, you might make some new friends. You’ll have a good time and you’ll feel a little bit better about yourself too.