Our volunteers come from all walks of life. They're a diverse bunch, and we have just as much variety in our volunteering opportunities. Read a few of their stories here for just a snapshot of volunteering with our charity. 

Connor
Victoria
Nellie
Jordan
Helen and Holly
Domingos
John
Louise
Kate

Connor

Photo: ConnorConnor is a Volunteer Fundraising Ambassador. He’s also created several short films for our charity, including the one for National Volunteers’ Week.

Connor did a lot of research about autism when he got his autism diagnosis last year. He found out about volunteering through visiting our website. He’s been a volunteer officially for about a month, but has been supporting us all year. He says he decided to volunteer because, “I just want as many people to be fully educated about autism as possible.” He emailed our charity a few times about becoming a volunteer, and started actively pushing to help when he heard about this year’s World Autism Awareness campaign, as it was a big part of his diagnosis.

His favourite part of the role is meeting other autistic people. “I actually don’t get to encounter any others on the spectrum in real life.” He’s been enjoying the opportunity to do cool things, like creating videos for World Autism Awareness Week, Night Walks and National Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteering has given me something that I enjoy to do sooo much. I feel there is an instant reward with everything I do as it appears to be resonating with people which makes me so happy.

Connor enjoys seeing how inspired people get through hearing different autistic people’s stories. If he could give a message to our charity, he’d say, “Thank you for all the opportunities you have supplied me with so far, keep doing what you are doing and I hope to only get more involved!”

He would encourage other people to volunteer. He says, “There are so many people who have a relation to autism so it would be a shame for them not to help.” Volunteering can open up all sorts of opportunities. For Connor, it’s given him a better idea of what he’d like to do career-wise.

It’s also helped him develop his skills. He says, “It has massively increased my confidence with phone calls. I’ve learnt so many media/journalist skills from filming on location and with lots of different people.”

  • meeting incredible people both on and off the spectrum
  • the opportunities are just insane
  • it is extremely rewarding to know that every little thing you do can make a massive difference.

Victoria

Photo: VictoriaVictoria has been volunteering as an Assistant Fundraiser for the past four years, and says that a family member on the autism spectrum provided the first spark of inspiration for getting involved. 

“It was watching my brother, David, grow up”, says the 23 year old from Johnstone, Scotland. David has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, and it was the “lack of help and support” they experienced as a family that encouraged her to volunteer.

Victoria had “always known about The National Autistic Society”, and so decided to find out more about volunteering through our social media channels. Since then, she’s enjoyed working as a Volunteer Fundraiser in our busy fundraising department, and has worked on a number of exciting projects. “As a Volunteer Fundraiser, I was Coordinator for the World Autism Awareness Week collection at Glasgow Central Station” says Victoria.

It’s nice to see the role progressing, and you can see that you actually are making a difference.”

Since arriving at the charity, Victoria says not one day has been exactly the same. “I’ve co-ordinated the Thomas Zip Pull box collections; I’ve done a sponsored bounce; I’ve volunteered at bucket collections, and now I have actually organised one!”

When it comes to the things she enjoys most about the role, Victoria says it’s been the opportunity to provide much-needed help and support to people like her brother. She says the most satisfying thing about volunteering is the feel good factor of knowing how what you’re doing helps people with autism so that they aren’t deprived of the support and services. “We didn’t know there was as much support or services out there as there is.”

As well as the opportunity to support people on the autism spectrum, volunteering at The National Autistic Society has provided Victoria with many of the necessary skills and experiences to succeed in the future. Victoria is studying for a Psychology qualification. 

It’s helped me from a career perspective, because I hope to work with people who have autism in the future.

Working with the fundraising team has not only been an exciting challenge, but an incredible learning curve for Victoria. “Coordinating the collection was such a big thing, as I’ve never done anything like that before, and learned so much” she says. “I work in retail so I do some coordinating, but never to run a whole event. You have to up your game because it is all down to you, making sure everyone is there and being prepared if someone doesn’t turn up – a lot of problem solving.”

Of course, one of the best things about volunteering at The National Autistic Society is getting to work alongside the friendly and encouraging staff. “They appreciate what we do” says Victoria. "The staff are so enthusiastic about fundraising! When we were doing the bucket collection, we got around £100 in one bucket and the staff thought it was amazing!”

I thought it was a huge thing for me to coordinate the collection this year but with all the support I got, it made it effortless.

So, would Victoria recommend volunteering to others? “Definitely” she says. “It’s effortless, it’s not time consuming, it’s really beneficial – and because it’s a charity you know you’ve done something to help other people. By starting out with volunteer fundraising then coordinating a fundraising event, I now want to push myself further and get involved in more things with the charity.”

Here’s to another four years, then? “I had to sit down, and count it up!” says Victoria, “It doesn’t feel like four years!” Well, let’s certainly hope so, anyway...

Nellie

Photo: NellieNellie volunteers at our North Yorkshire Central Branch and as a moderator on our online community. She’s almost finished her BA in Linguistics at the University of York. She tells us about her work with our charity.

I first got involved in volunteering with the charity while searching for volunteering opportunities in the York area. I knew I wanted to do something more than just study while away at university.

The National Autistic Society seemed an ideal charity to volunteer with, given my younger brother has autism.

This June marks two years since I started volunteering with the branch, and since then we’ve seen a lot of changes, from the creation of our ‘Siblings Events’ through to giving an Understanding Autism’ talk to staff and volunteers at York Museums Trust.

Currently, my role at the branch involves checking the branch email account, acting as an admin to our social media sites and overseeing the activities of our volunteers as they set up new activities and events.

My role as a community moderator was something I took on in May last year. Since then, I’ve visited head office to receive my training and have worked within a fantastic team of moderators and National Autistic Society staff to make sure that the community is a safe and informative place to be. In the future, I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the charity, and hope to take on the role of Branch Chair at the North Yorkshire Central Branch.

I never would have thought that my journey volunteering with The National Autistic Society would have turned out this way, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Jordan

Photo: JordonJordan Fernando, 20, is an autistic volunteer from North Ayrshire, Scotland. School wasn’t always easy for Jordan, as she had to confront bullies. But having a Social Base for pupils with learning difficulties to go to at break times and a supportive guidance teacher helped. She tells us about how she got into volunteering and her plans for the future.

My Mum Suzanne has been an activist for both Cervical Cancer and Autism for about 16 years. Since I was very little, I often would accompany her on many fundraisers, speeches and would really enjoy them. It’s not been an easy journey for me throughout the years but with help and support from family and friends along the way, I’ve managed to adapt and cope with autism as best I can.

I’ve embraced autism and was inspired to use it to my advantage by raising awareness, fundraising, becoming an ambassador and volunteering with The National Autistic Society.

I've been volunteering with The National Autistic Society alongside my family now since I was three years old (around the time I was diagnosed with autism). I am now 20 so you could say the best part of 17 years now, however more independently since about the age of 15.

Now that I have graduated from school and passed all my exams, I've actively sought out opportunities at the charity. I enjoy volunteering at The One Stop Shop in Kilmarnock, which is one of my favourite roles. I occasionally attend the girls’ group in Glasgow, am a Young Campaigner, assist in the local health radio station and especially enjoy organising annual coffee mornings too.

I was nominated as an official Baton Bearer in 2014 for my voluntary work with the charity, and more recently, I was a finalist in the Autism Professionals Awards 2017. As the years went by, I would regularly tell anyone that would listen that one day I'd volunteer/work for The National Autistic Society.

It's been my passion to raise awareness wherever and whenever I can which is one of the many reasons I decided to set up my own newsletter "JUST Jordan". I really enjoy engaging with my members, answering questions, providing information and developing new ideas and stories. Since setting up my newsletter, my local MP Jamie Greene was so impressed with our family’s volunteering and fundraisers over the years that he invited us to the Scottish Parliament as local heroes. My sister Aaron attended on my behalf and a copy of my newsletter was distributed around the members of parliament and gained great reviews from all, which was just awesome.

I'm excited about the future and can't wait to see what happens next.

The volunteering department have encouraged me to reach my full potential and grab every opportunity that is best suited to my abilities. My mentor (well I call her my mentor as she's been a rock to me) Fiona Bain has been a superb source of information and support and actively encourages me to take part in new and exciting ventures. Volunteering with the charity has made a huge difference to my life.

It's given me strength, confidence and a feeling of being in control of my own life and destiny.

I am passionate about raising awareness about autism, and I have won two awards for my voluntary work at the charity. My desire to help others and provide care to those in need gets me out of bed in the morning to go and volunteer. I love what I do and can't envision doing anything else with my life. I am sure in time the right job will arise within the charity for me and I'll never look back. Meantime however am happy continuing to volunteer for such an amazing charity and I'd personally like to thank everyone involved who has helped me become the person I am today.

You have given me hope and a future to look forward to.

I've learnt over the years that having autism has its challenges for sure and I am different from many, but in no way am I any less of a person. I embrace autism and love the person and young woman I've grown into and wouldn't change a single thing. We all need to remember that those of us on the spectrum are so much more than just a diagnosis. Autism is part of who we are, it's not everything. Let's face it even if you’re not on the spectrum there is clearly no such thing as a normal person, we're all unique and we're all different. That's what makes the world such a fascinating place to be in!

I often recommend volunteering with the charity as it brings me so much joy and I've no doubt the work I do will ultimately help me find the perfect job role. I've learnt many additional skills from my role in volunteering with the charity.

Visit Jordan’s newsletter and her social media page to learn more.

Helen and Holly

Photo: Helen and LucyHolly is a one of our volunteer befrienders. Befriending can make a huge difference to an autistic person. She tells us a bit about her friend Helen.

I began my training to become a volunteer befriender in June 2011. After being sent profiles to select from, I was matched with Helen and her family in November 2011. Helen and I meet every other weekend and during school holidays.

We typically go to the cinema, for a coffee/lunch and swimming. During the holidays we usually go on day trips to places such as London, Beale Park, Legoland, Cadbury World, Marwell Zoo and Bucklebury Farm Park.

Throughout our almost six years together, it has been wonderful to see how much Helen has changed and grown in confidence and now making herself understood. I very much enjoy the time I spend with Helen.

I can’t wait to see how she grows and blossoms in the years to come.

Helen and I also appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of the National Autistic Society's magazine as part of their Befriending Scheme article.

Domingos

Photo: DomingosDomingos has been volunteering as a Supporter Care Assistant with The National Autistic Society for the past few months. He and says his experience working with the charity has been both a pleasure and a privilege. We asked him to share his thoughts about working for the charity.

“My first day participating in the weekend training at Clifford Chance law firm was an enjoyable and eye opening experience” Domingos says.

I learned so much about the misconceptions, stereotypes, history and detailed facts about autism during the training weekend.

Domingos had previously heard about autism, and felt our charity was a particularly good fit. “I already had a small understanding of those on the autism spectrum because of a personal family connection. But by the end of the training weekend, my knowledge was enhanced to the point that I knew volunteering with The National Autistic Society would be the correct thing for me to do.”

As well as gaining in-depth knowledge of autism, Domingos says volunteering has helped his personal and professional development, particularly when it comes to using the latest software, including the Customer Relationship Management System, Raisers Edge. He says,

It's made me a better person.

“I have gained a greater awareness about how to approach people on the autism spectrum.” He says that particularly helps when it comes to hearing about the lives of autistic people, their families, and how our charity helps to raise awareness.

Domingos encourages others to get involved too. “The National Autistic Society lifeline volunteering programme is one of the most innovative and organised programmes that I have been a part of, in any organisation, helping people to enrich and develop themselves professionally and personally while giving back to those less fortunate.”

In the meantime, Domingos looks forward to organising even more events with us, while helping to improve the lives of autistic people, their families and communities.

John

Photo: JohnJohn’s been volunteering with our social groups in Glasgow and Clydebank for about a year. John is on the autism spectrum and he says, “I wanted to share my experiences with other people who have the same problems as what I’ve got.”.

His role is to help young people with answering questions when they go out. He says, “I just like to help out and go where they go for a night out.” John says that Sandra, who helps organise the groups, “is good at dealing with people with autism and she’s good at organizing things for them.”

He would recommend volunteering to others and can see himself doing it for a few more years. He says,

I like helping people.

He also says he’d like young people to get more help than he had when he was younger, especially with employment. He says “But I do feel do feel with the charity there is more support now than what there was, now that autism has become well known, the society is doing their best to help young ones to find employment that is suitable.”

Louise

My son was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years old and for the first couple of years everything seemed so very daunting, I didn’t really know a lot about autism then and I had no idea why my son acted the way he did. One day I decided to give The National Autistic Society’s Parent to Parent Helpline a call as we were going through a particularly challenging time. I spoke to a volunteer who gave me some great advice and strategies to help with my son’s behaviour.

It was so refreshing to speak to another parent, the volunteer seemed to understand exactly what I was going through.

Up until this point, I hadn’t really spoken to anyone else who had a child with autism so it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone. It was for this reason, I decided to become a volunteer myself.

Since my son’s diagnosis, I have received some fantastic support over the years and found many interventions and strategies that have worked for my son. In the back of my mind I always remembered how the volunteer at The National Autistic Society had helped me so when I saw the advertisement to become a volunteer, I just knew it was something I had to do.

I wanted to share with other parents everything that I have learnt about my son and how I have learnt to understand the way he sees the world. I wanted to help other parents by telling them about my own experiences in the hope that the support and interventions I have used will help them with their own children.

I have now been volunteering for The Parent to Parent Helpline for the past five years and I love every minute of it.

It’s a nice feeling to know I am helping other parents who are in a similar situation to myself. Especially those parents who are just getting a diagnosis and have the same sort of questions I had early on. It is nice to be able to give them reassurance and information on many subjects relating to autism and what has worked for me. Not only is it nice to know I am helping but it also helps me to think of new ways to help my son in areas he may be struggling in.

Volunteering for The National Autistic Society makes me feel like I’m a part of a community and the support and encouragement I receive from the Parent to Parent Team is fantastic. Volunteering has also helped me develop new skills such as having more of a listening ear, learning how to access information and signposting on a range of subjects relating to autism. Above all it has given me more confidence with my own social interactions.

I would thoroughly recommend volunteering for The National Autistic Society to other parents.

The wealth of knowledge we as parents accumulate whilst bringing up our children can sometimes play a huge part in helping others to understand. It certainly helped me when my son was younger and I feel extremely proud to be part of such a fantastic organisation.

Kate

Kate volunteers with our Parent to Parent helpline. She shares some of the reasons she enjoys volunteering with us.

  • feeling that I've helped somebody see a way forward
  • the chance to connect with another parent that understands – through meeting other volunteers face to face, but also talking to callers giving something back that can make a difference to the whole family
  • realising the positives for my own child when I have had a bad day at work, volunteering for Parent to Parent cheers me up
  • I always feel very valued as a volunteer – more so than in any other job I've ever had
  • I’m proud to work for The National Autistic Society – they’re lovely caring but professional people.