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Volunteer Stories: Damien

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As part of our celebrations for National Volunteers’ Week (1st to 7th June) we wanted to share stories from some of our wonderful volunteers. This is our second interview with a volunteer this week. See the first one here.

Damien volunteers as the HCTS team coordinator – “I coordinate the team, not the festival - it truly is a group effort!” He’s also a member of both the programming and marketing teams, and an occasional house manager or barkeep.

What attracted you to start volunteering at the Rising Sun?

That's a very good question, as I somewhat stumbled into it! I offered my services as compere for the third Here Comes The Sun Festival and that was my foot in the door, so to speak. From that alone I found myself invited to some volunteer socials (which I felt a bit of a fraud attending at first!), and when the call went out for a bigger team to help put together the next year's festival, I stepped forward. It all snowballed from there, but I guess the reason I stepped up was because I thought it'd be great to help shape what was happening, at first with the festival and then with the centre in a much wider way. The chance to be involved and give other artists the chances that I'd been given as a performer myself.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?

It's the much the same as the reasons I got involved - to give back to the Reading arts community, to help shape the programme for the centre. And it gives me a chance to stretch and strengthen skills that I don't get to exercise in my day job, things like project management and PR, as well as using my professional skills for a good cause.

What difference has volunteering made to you?

I've developed new skills - everything from working behind a bar to managing a festival team! I love working alongside the other volunteers, knowing that we're all from different backgrounds but working towards the same goal. I love meeting and working with different artists, promoters and creators, too - I've widened my network of friends and associates thanks to being part of the team here. And when we get nominations for awards - and even winning them! - it's a great feeling of achievement, that we've all worked together to do this; I take great pride in being part of something so special.

What impact does your volunteering have on the local community?

There's a part of me that isn't sure what the right answer is for this, but I like to think I've had a positive impact on the local community. Whether that's doing my bit to bring something different to the centre's programme, bringing new faces to the centre or widening the centre's reputation and reach at community events.

A huge thank you to Damien and all of our volunteers who have definitely made Reading’s cultural scene much brighter!

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