Our Volunteers


A Volunteer’s Journey to Harrow Community Transport (Harrow CT)

In September 2010, I left the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) after working there for 38 years as a middle manager.  As soon as I left Defra, I was in search of a job connecting with my local community in Harrow.  I was keen to meet new people, share my skills and learn something new.  In October 2010, I started volunteering in the Oxfam shop in Stanmore.  Oxfam survives on donations.  Clothes, books and other knick-knacks in excellent conditions are sold to customers.  My first job in the Oxfam shop was to sort out merchandise which can be sold to the local community at a reasonable price.  I enjoyed working in the Oxfam shop helping the organisation to raise money fight global poverty.  However, I was looking for something similar to what I had done in Defra alongside working for Oxfam.

In January 2012, I started volunteering for LIFT, a user-led organisation that works with homeless and disadvantaged people in London and beyond, with the aim of empowering them to improve their lives and realise their potential.  I worked there for about six months.  I took telephone queries and focussed people in the right direction.  Though I enjoyed my work, I did not enjoy my travel to Harlesden where the office was located.

I was looking for an admin job near home in Harrow.  I sent my CV to Harrow Voluntary Services.  This was the beginning of my interesting journey to Harrow CT.  In September 2012, Alan Voda, Director of Harrow CT, interviewed me and offered me an administrative volunteer’s position in his team.  Though I lived in Harrow since March 1980, I did not hear of Harrow CT.  It is a small charity organisation.  Harrow CT has been helping Harrow residents with a wide range of transport services for over the past 30 years.    

My first job in Alan’s team was to research and compile the history of Harrow CT.  It was fun reading through local newspapers going back to 1980s and learning about the evolution of the Harrow CT which has been part of the local community since late 1970s.  As I worked initially just a day per week, I took 2-3 months to research and compile the history.  I read so many inspiring stories whilst researching for the material of the history of the organisation.  I was inspired to read how Gladys Janes MBE, a resident of Harrow, devoted and dedicated her life for the cause of Harrow CT.  It would be no exaggeration to say that Harrow CT would not have been established without Gladys’s dedication.  I was also overwhelmed to read stories of generous donations which people made to Harrow CT.  A resident of Harrow, Doreen Drysdale, who regularly used the transport services of the organisation left £43,000 in legacy donation, when she sadly passed away in 2008.  The history is now on Harrow CT’s website.  I am grateful to Alan for acknowledging my small contribution to the history by placing my photograph on the website.  This did provide me with a sense of achievement!

On 21 May 2013 Alan launched a new project of weekly outings for the residents of Harrow.   For the first outing, we took eight senior citizens to the most picturesque village of Shere in Surrey.  The village has a quaint atmosphere, glorious buildings, superb scenery and even a stream with ducks.  At a local museum, I heard that the film ‘Holiday’ was made in Shere.  Apparently, the village of Shere is the most photographed place in the country.  The outing was a great success which would not have been possible without Gerry Divine’s brilliant driving.  Gerry is one of the trustees.  He is also the Chairman of Harrow CT.  It was wonderful to see that everyone enjoyed the day.  People chatted among themselves, made contacts and exchanged information – a true community experience.  People thanked Harrow CT for co-ordinating the visit, an uplifting experience for everyone especially in this troubled time.

I consider that the outings project has significant benefits for the local community in Harrow.  By taking people to interesting places, Harrow CT is improving the quality of their life.  This will improve their morale and thus their general well being which will boost people's immune system helping them to fight depression and other emotional traumas.  A lot of senior citizens live on their own.  Lonely life is disheartening.  Some elderly people do not drive and they cannot afford expensive day trips organised by holiday companies.  People find the cost of day trips organised by Harrow CT very affordable.  The project, launched only about a week ago, has generated a lot of interest in the local community.  We have already received about forty membership applications from a wide range of local groups.    

I feel privileged to be part of Harrow CT.  I feel that I am doing something worthwhile by making a small contribution to the organisation which proactively looks for ways to serve the local community.  It is not all hard work; we do have a lot of fun in Harrow CT.  Alan is not only a brilliant leader, he has a wicked sense of humour.  Alan often leaves his small administrative team of a couple of paid administrators and a part-time administrative volunteer in stitches.  The administrative team and the drivers are the backbone of Harrow CT.  Everyone in the team helps and supports one another demonstrating the true community spirit. Staff are motivated and everyone gives their best to Harrow CT.    

I enjoy working for Harrow CT and look forward to being part of the organisation for many more years.

Veena Banerji

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