Introducing Karen Doku, a volunteer befriender for the RAF Association.
Karen became involved in volunteering for the Befriending Service in August 2018 and volunteers in London. Karen has kindly taken some time to answer our questions about her experience.
What made you want to get involved in volunteering for the Association?
I had family members who previously served in the RAF, giving me the motivation to get involved.
What appealed about the role?
The opportunity to interact with an individual on a one-to-one basis in a meaningful and supportive way and being able to acknowledge and validate his or her connection with the RAF.
What have you learnt during your time as a volunteer?
I’ve learnt that a relatively small amount of my time makes a big difference to the person I visit. The smile of welcome I receive never fails to brighten my day.
What is the best thing about your volunteering role with the Association?
No two visits are the same. Sometimes it’s sharing experiences or simply being a listening ear, at other times it’s putting the world to rights over a cup of tea or singing along to Elvis Presley!
If you were to recommend volunteering for the Association to others, what would you say?
There is excellent training, which leads to a nationally recognised qualification (The AIM Awards Level 1 Award in Befriending Qualification) and equally excellent on-going support. Most importantly, it’s about being part of a big, yet cohesive family, which is mutually supportive and does some incredible work.
Which of your skills, knowledge or experiences have aided you in your volunteering?
Definitely having a sense of humour, also the promotion of skills such as self-confidence, self-advocacy and independence, so that others beside you are empowered.
If you could volunteer alongside a well-known historical figure, from the past one hundred years, who would it be?
The historical figure I would most like to volunteer alongside would be Bessie Coleman. Prevented from holding a pilot’s licence in the US, due to the fact that she was both black and a woman, Coleman moved to France and became the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to earn an aviation pilot’s licence. I find her can-do attitude, creativity and self-belief hugely inspiring.