How Volunteering at Dandelion Time has Changed my Life
Written by Anna Feierabend
Anna from Germany arrived at Dandelion Time as a Residential volunteer in 2017 and all these years later she is still very much part of the Dandelion Time family. Here is her story.
It has been more than three years since I decided to leave Germany ‘to do something meaningful’ for a year. I found studying for my A-Levels rather stressful and torturous, so I couldn’t wait to finally move on and volunteer for a children’s charity like Dandelion Time.
Funnily enough, I had no idea that this work would change my life, that it would change my way of thinking and remain in my heart forever. I often get asked the same questions; “How come you’re still working for Dandelion Time even though your volunteering year has past? Don’t you start to get bored of the work after three years and want to move on?” I just tend to smile at them, shake my head and say: “If you knew how beautiful and rewarding the work is…”
Being a Residential Volunteer I had the amazing opportunity to work first hand with vulnerable families on our farm sessions. However, this wasn’t my only responsibility! I helped with everything from animal care, emptying the bins in cold wet evenings to copious amounts of weeding and planting. A particular shock for me was having to prepare meals for the sessions every day, something I had no experience with before!
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t find it rather difficult in the beginning. Not only because of the many new people I was suddenly surrounded by, a new language I only briefly came across at school but also a lot of new therapeutic approaches I wasn’t familiar with at all. How can the power of nature have such a crucial and positive impact on our both mental and physical wellbeing? And how can all of that even improve the relationship between the child and the parent? It is safe to say I have found the answers to every single question.
Having all of these experiences at Dandelion Time not only made my Mum happy when I came home for Christmas and prepared the dinner all by myself, but they have also helped me grow in confidence. I had to take responsibility for a lot of things, but it gave me the opportunity to learn how rewarding volunteering can be. I had the opportunity to discover how important Dandelion Time’s service is for local families and which had a profound impact on my way of thinking.
I came to Dandelion Time in 2017 with the aim of completing my year volunteering, to then head back to Germany and study journalism. Now three years on, I still live in Kent, studying Counselling and Psychotherapy in Canterbury, and work for Dandelion Time as a Therapeutic Support Worker. I would have never thought that volunteering for this unique charity could ever bring me to where I am now, a member of staff and even more importantly, a part of the Dandelion Time family and it still feels like a dream every time I talk about it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Looking back at my Dandelion Time journey, I cannot put into words how working for this charity has helped change my way of looking at the world and helped me find my true self. I’m looking forward to many more years of getting the chance to help change the lives of more vulnerable children every day.
What I would say to someone who was thinking about volunteering for Dandelion Time?
I cannot repeat often enough how volunteering for this charity opens so many doors and offers opportunities that I would not have dreamed of. It is pure magic, there is no other way to describe it. You’ll meet the most wonderful people, will work in a peaceful and magical environment and will be able to see the impact your volunteering has on the lives of so many vulnerable children. Whether it is directly working with the families, looking after the animals or helping out in our garden. There is always lots to do, and I assure you that supporting this local charity might possibly change your life, just like it changed mine.
If you would like to volunteer at Dandelion we would love to hear from you – please visit our Volunteer Page