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Volunteer’s Blog: Mike Canfield


Occupation: Fund Manager

I have volunteered as a swimming coach with the Special Educational Needs (SEN) multisport club at St Paul’s Girls’ School for around five years. I was first introduced to the charity when I went to the annual dodgeball tournament and got talking to CEO Michael (de Giorgio), and some of the coaches and volunteers. They all said that one area they were struggling with at the time was male volunteers. . I’ve always loved swimming and I was happy to help, so I started the process of becoming a volunteer as soon as I could and I haven’t looked back!

For me, one of the most rewarding parts of the process is seeing the progression of the different children over time. Having been around for a few years, I’ve seen children go from swimming widths with support to swimming lengths competitively. That’s wonderful to see. Other than that, seeing how much the students enjoy the classes definitely makes it worthwhile. Aside from getting to see the progression as the students get more and more confident in the water, I also like the fact that I can do something helpful with my time, while also getting to keep up my swimming. Listening to Annette and the other coaches, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two myself!

Though my schedule is pretty busy, ultimately, it’s only a few hours of my time on a Saturday. I would love to commit more time, to be honest. I feel much happier knowing that I’m doing something meaningful with my weekend afternoons. It might sound like a huge commitment to give a few hours every week to one of the clubs, but it’s such a break from the normal work environment and it’s great to see how happy it makes the children.

If you were asked to describe your volunteering experience in one word, what would it be? Tough to choose… I’d say either ‘fun’ or ‘rewarding’.