Barry Freedman is a volunteer for Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust. He has volunteered at a few locations in Watford, and having been a Watford football fan for over 55 years, thought volunteering in Hertfordshire would be the perfect way to give back.
Where do you volunteer and for how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been volunteering in Hertfordshire for about 15 months now and whilst the bulk of my activity centres around supporting projects for The Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust, the scope has expanded significantly since I started and now includes volunteering for Westfield Academy in Watford, Watford Football Club itself and Cedars (Harrow) and The Meriden (Watford) Youth & Community Centres. Whilst all these, in some way or another, are linked to (and often supported by) Watford Football Club, as a spin-off, I also work with a fantastic charity called KitAid. I’m now also discussing the possibility of helping at the Watford Museum.
This year The Watford FC Trust and KitAid celebrate their 25th and 20th anniversaries respectively, so it promises to be an eventful, busy but very enjoyable period.
How did you get in to volunteering and what do you do?
I retired a couple of years ago and, having been a Watford fan for over 55 years, I thought what better way of giving something back than by volunteering for the club. I searched the WFC website and found a section on volunteering and contacted Derrick Williams (Volunteering & Quality Assurance Officer for The CS&E Trust, and founder of KitAid). We arranged a meeting during which Derrick outlined the Trust’s mission, its’ aims and objectives and its’ programme of on-going projects and plans. I “signed up” there and then and the rest, as they say, is history.
My role is wide and varied. As a qualified PSV driver, much of my time is taken up driving mini buses; be it for the Westfield Academy 1st and reserve teams to their away fixtures up and down the country, to the Watford Premier League “Kicks” team to various football tournaments. I also help at events organised by The Trust. These can range from girls’ football tournaments to programmes designed for those with disabilities. I’ll help set things up, support members of staff running the events, make cups of tea and basically do whatever I’m asked to do.
What do you enjoy about your volunteer role, how does it benefit you?
If I’m honest, I think the most enjoyable thing about volunteering is that I’m doing something that is not only great fun and rewarding, but it’s connected to my lifelong passion – football and specifically Watford Football Club. I get to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t and sometimes I feel like I’m a kid in a candy shop. Something I’ve only really discovered since I started, is that there are so many people out there, any age, any gender any colour, ability or disability, that just need a bit of help. There are also so many people, unsung people, willing to give that help, for no fame nor favour. But that’s just how they want it. For me it’s a privilege to be a small part of that.
What difference are you making by volunteering?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I suppose at its very basic level, if I wasn’t doing what I do, the organisations might have to find somebody else or worse, not be able to carry out all the wonderful work they do as well as they do. On a productive level I’d like to think that in some small way I’m helping people see what can be achieved with a little help and encouragement.
Its’ made a difference to me too. Since I started volunteering my outlook has markedly changed, and I think for the better.