I see a lot of posts on Facebook. Some are just fun stuff, silly quizzes, pics of cute cats; some are people having a rant about the state of the world; some are from people trying to do something to change that world.
One such group is Friends of Bartley Green Reservoir who realised that we have a resource in our local community that is probably little appreciated by the majority of people who live nearby. The reservoir is unusual in that it is the only reservoir in Birmingham where the water is made fit for drinking at its source in Wales, and arrives just up the road from me, ready for final preparation before it is pumped into the pipes and ends up pouring from my tap.
Tall fences closely guard this water source, to prevent contamination. The swathes of green land around it are not easily accessible for many but the hardiest walkers, or car-drivers, though somehow people who dump unwelcomed rubbish seem easily able to make the trip.
This coming together of people with a common interest, encouraged by Kevin Stych, who lives locally , have already started cleaning up the place and are working with local organisations and entities to improve facilities and access.
I read the group posts with interest and a little sigh. I am not able to make my way there to help with a litter pick – my achy joints would definitely not appreciate that. I felt that familiar irritation and frustration at my disabilities that stop me taking part in something I feel valuable. As a pagan, back in the day, we held rituals in Bromwich Woods, which run alongside the reservoir, and are included in the clean-up campaign. I would love to take care of this venerable place but am thwarted by my health.
Then I spotted a post asking if anyone would be interested in acting as secretary for this group: just a few hours admin work every couple of months or so. This I could do. I contacted Kevin and I have now been confirmed as secretary. It’s not as close to the land as I would once have been but it is something I can manage and will help in some small way.
Volunteering in whatever capacity you are able is a great way to remain part of society around you. Not everyone would want to, or is able to, and that is fine, but if you miss being involved you may be able to offer help in unexpected ways.
Remember though that if you are in receipt of benefits, it would be wise to check the regulations on volunteering before accepting a role.
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for the Midlands