Volunteer Stories: Annie Webster

For Volunteers’ Week, we’re shining a spotlight on one of our member’s volunteers – Annie Webster, volunteer at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL)!

Annie chatted with us about her volunteer role, how it’s changed since COVID-19 and what volunteering means to her:

Volunteer Annie Webster, smiling at the camera. She has glasses sitting atop her head and a kind face.
What is your volunteer role?

Before COVID-19, I volunteered on front of house and was responsible for general reception duties:

  • Welcoming visitors and members and handling their queries
  • Signing up new members
  • Showing visitors around
  • Promoting GWL’s aims and events
  • Answering telephones
  • Issuing books, re-shelving books and tidying book shelves
  • Assisting with shop purchase
  • And offering tea, coffee cake and biscuits!
How has your role changed since the onset of COVID-19?

With the building closed to the public, the front of house role was no longer needed. However, I was still keen to volunteer with GWL so I’ve taken up some new digital tasks during the pandemic. I collaborated with the volunteer coordinator on Twitter takeovers by writing, compiling and posting threads on specific topics. I also helped with a virtual tour of the library as part of a This Is Who We Are live event, during which I presented a segment. 

These digital roles have meant familiarising ourselves with technology, particularly Zoom, which has been extremely useful! There have also been some great opportunities to learn other technical skills such as subtitling videos for the library, including Calm Slam poetry submissions and long interviews about the history of GWL, and transcribing recordings from live events.

Q: What is your favourite part of volunteering?

Difficult to choose! I loved volunteering on front of house, but I’m still slightly nervous about returning. I’ve really enjoyed all of the new technical and digital skills that I’ve had an opportunity to learn over lockdown, and I adore all the activities that involve discussions with other volunteers and staff members. Oh, and I get enormous satisfaction from activities that give me a greater insight into the understanding of GWL, as I find their history and work really inspiring! All together, the best thing about volunteering is knowing I’m part of a vibrant, caring, stimulating group of fantastically talented women who show that working together can make a difference in so many ways.

Q: How has volunteering impacted your life during COVID-19?

Quite simply, it has kept me afloat – because of the lack of interactions with anyone other than my household (me and my husband), the virtual programme that GWL has set up for volunteers has been a godsend. Although I miss seeing my GWL friends in the flesh, seeing so many of them as part of the online volunteer programme is a wonderful substitute. I think it’s been great for my mental health to be part of this organisation; it gives me the opportunity to look outside my own shrinking world at a time when we may be tempted to withdraw even more.

Q: Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share about your volunteering experience?

I would just like to add that my work as a volunteer has been so satisfying, and that I am delighted to be able to join the GWL Board of Trustees in my capacity as a Volunteer. This gives me an incredible opportunity to represent the volunteer programme, an important part of the GWL organisation, in a personal and I hope constructive way.

Thanks to Annie for chatting with us, and for her immense contribution to the Glasgow Women’s Library!

Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) is a time to recognise the contribution that volunteers make across the UK. Thank you to those that have continued volunteering in the past year, often taking on new roles and learning new skills to do so. And thank you to those who may have been unable to volunteer, or volunteer as regularly, or who may be anxious about resuming. You are all Scotland’s volunteers, and we look forward to your full return!