Have you ever seen a sign or a poster asking for volunteers? I have many times and to be honest, I've just ignored them, convincing myself that I didn't have the time.
The previous five words mean a lot more for people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. All those wishes, dreams and ambitions that they could see themselves doing "once we've retired" or "once the kids have finished school" take on a new perspective as they really don't have the time.
I'd done some volunteering a long time ago and I have the luxury of being able to say that. I sometimes drop some loose change into a collection box and think "I've done my bit" but I now realise I can do so much more.
When I lost my mum to cancer in May 2021 and my brother, again to cancer in January 2019, I was amazed by the selfless people who cared for them in their final weeks. I felt obligated to give back and shortly after, I was talking with a lad I go running with called Liam and he said he was volunteering for a charity called Purple Heart Wishes (PHW). They're a charity that provides experiences for adults between 18 and 55 so that they can share this time and make precious memories together.
Before I knew it, I had signed up for a couple of hour's training at the Etihad Stadium, home to Manchester City. PHW have an arrangement with the football club that lets them run one of the 85 kiosks in the stadium and take a percentage of the takings. This is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both: the club don't need to pay a team of staff as PHW provide volunteer staff and PHW share the profits.
My training coincided with the start of the concert period after the end of the football season and I found that my first volunteering stint would be at the Liam Gallagher gig. A week later, I did two nights of the Ed Sheeran tour and was so impressed, I managed to buy myself some last-minute tickets for myself and my wife to see him.
The team of PHW volunteers are so supportive and help you find your way round the kiosk. Some work the tills, some as runners and servers and I was the latter. For the duration of the concert, I poured beer and cider, ran for crisps, wine and water and the whole thing just came together. From the other side of the bar, it looks like chaos but from our side, it is, but organised chaos and everyone soon finds their place in the process. It is such a happy place to be and the time flies by.
The week after, at the Ed Sheeran gigs, I was much better and found it a much smoother process. Also, something else happened. I found that I was really starting to enjoy it; meeting new and happy people every few minutes and having a laugh with them whilst making sure they got what they wanted to enjoy their evening.
In recent months, I have volunteered at the Manchester City football matches now that the season has started. We all arrive about three hours before the game kicks off and get away about 20 minutes after the start of the second half to beat the traffic. We even get free parking at City.
After reading this, if you would like to come and join us, be part of a great team and meet lots of nice people whilst, at the same time supporting this wonderful charity, please get in touch with us, that's if you have the time.
We would love you to be part of our team here at Purple Heart Wishes.