Volunteering at YHA Hawkshead

Linda McRoberts, Governance Manager for Spirit of 2012, recently volunteered at Spirit of 2012 blog; you can also read it here…

“I spent a week of my holidays recently cleaning and painting a large, run-down kitchen and loved it!I have fond memories of many Youth Hostels Association (YHA) stays from travelling ‘back in the day’. Affordable accommodation in beautiful spots with great companionship, and some life-long friendships formed as a result. Well, that was then…Life moves on, and I usually look for a few more creature comforts from my holidays now.

So, when a friend suggested I join her for a week of volunteering at a YHA, I was a little conflicted – ‘those lovely places’ vs. ‘disturbed sleep in dorms’, not to mention ‘working on my week off’. I booked, but won’t pretend when packing my old clothes and various work gloves that I didn’t wonder whether I’d taken leave of my senses.

I took the train from London to Windermere and the YHA manager picked me up from the station – immediately I felt welcome. We arrived at the hostel just as another volunteer was checking in at the same time; within an hour the two of us were walking down a beautiful footpath to Hawkshead, with views of fells and lakes and swapping life stories.

It turned out there were about eight of us volunteering. The next day we were challenged with sorting out the self-catering kitchen – a space that clearly got a lot of use! We decided on the materials needed and set about the cleaning – throwing out old lamp shades, moving fridges and furniture – we each quickly settled to tasks that suited us and got into a routine, all stopping for lunch together in the midst of our handiwork each day. It was hard work: we cleared grime, scrubbed the ceiling and paintwork and re-painted the walls, the shelving and doors. Someone had brought a radio, so we enjoyed music and chatted while we worked.

The first few days several of us, not used to this amount of physical work, found ourselves aching, but this quickly passed. It’s amazing how quickly large jobs can be achieved, when a group works well together and by the end of the week, we were very proud of our gleaming kitchen. We felt a sense of pride and ownership.

One morning, we took some time out and had a walk in the nearby Grizedale Forest and most evenings we’d walk into the local village to sample one of their pubs or buy a well-deserved bottle of wine for the group!

A busy week, with a sense of purpose, lovely people, hearty food, tremendous scenery, fresh air and lots of laughs…I returned smiling and feeling a bit fitter than when I’d left. I’ll be back next year!”

Have you had a fantastic volunteering experience and want to share it with the YHA community? Do you want to have your own fun volunteering adventure? Get in touch! Email [email protected] or call 01629 592 562.