The following blog was written by Christine Bone, Meet Me volunteer.
How it all started
I think I started volunteering at the Albany around 4 years ago, but I can’t be sure as the pandemic has messed with time!
I remember being quite nervous on my first day, but all the other volunteers and members made me feel at home very quickly.
The first artist I met at Meet Me was Shane Waltener. It was such a great project and made me realise how much I love making and helping others to create things. My head was buzzing with ideas after my first Meet Me. And that’s probably why I love it so much.
When I’m not volunteering I work as a graphic designer. I love music and have a drum kit in my living room. I dream of being in a band!
Volunteering during the pandemic
The weekly phone group really kept me going in lockdown and kept me in contact with the Meet Me team. I started on the first telephone cluster call, which was a knitting and crochet group, with artist Celia Pym. We managed to get some supplies delivered to the group, so everyone had the opportunity to make something.
The group then changed to the Wednesday making group, so it included all kinds of making. I met new members on the phone and when Meet Me started again at the Albany it was lovely to meet them in person.
A day at Meet Me…
I’d like to share one day at Meet Me. I’ve decided to write about volunteering with artist Zoë Gilmour at the beginning of this year. The theme of the sessions was style. I was very excited about this as I love clothes and have bags of fabric, ribbon and yarn. I have collected these over the years and love using them at the Albany.
On the first Tuesday I filled my trolley with books, magazines and paper. I usually walk to the Albany and aim to get there by 9.30am. We start setting up the tables ready for the members turning up at 10.30am.
The tables are filled with things to inspire some Style mood boards we are going to make. After we have set up, there is a briefing with the artist and volunteers, and then we are ready to meet the members. It’s nice saying hi to the choir as they walk through. Lots of members stop and chat and I take photos, the new bright painted walls make a good background.
As people come to the tables and settle down, we get them tea, coffee and biscuits. We then ask people what they would like to work on. The volunteers usually sit with one of the members and make something as well. There is a lot of chatting and laughing. Everyone has a story and today we are talking about people and their style, and clothes they have made.
Our members are very creative and it’s lovely showing the group what people have made. I also love taking photos and showing the members. It’s a lovely way to connect with someone and Zoë will project the photos the following week for everyone to enjoy.
The choir finishes at 12pm and as they come through the café I ask if anyone would like their photo taken and everyone is keen. Zoë puts music on, and we dance while I take photos. It’s lovely, because I’m quite shy!
We start tidying up as people are waiting for their taxis home. We like to keep the members work together and paintings are left to dry. I always feel that it will never get done, but miraculously it does.
We have a de-briefing and it’s nice to share what we have done. By 1pm I am very hungry, so I usually get some lunch with Zoë or anyone else who’s up for it – M&D, a local Japanese café, is a favourite. After that, I usually go home and do some graphic design.
Would you like to join the Meet Me team to support Meet Me at the Albany in person and remote activities like Christine? Click here to learn more about the volunteer roles available and how to apply.