Gordon's Passion for Volunteering
CWP volunteer Gordon Cairns was recently named Older Volunteer of the Year in the 2019 Cheshire West Voluntary Action Volunteer Awards. Below, he shares his thoughts about the accolade and why he thinks volunteering is so important.
Gordon, congratulations on your recent award! Older Volunteer of the Year! How does it feel?
I’m still shocked! I wasn’t expecting it – I didn’t know someone had nominated me so it was a complete surprise. It was all secret until the day – I didn’t know what it was about!
Cheshire West Voluntary Action came to visit me at Blacon Library. They took a photo of me and gave me a special painting by a local artist.
I’m bowled over. On social media I’ve had loads of messages (and I’m still getting them now!). People have been getting in touch who I haven’t seen for ages.
Tell us a bit about your volunteering background…
I started volunteering 12 years ago when I had prostate cancer. I was only 58 and I had to give up work and was struggling with my mental health.
I began with a small residents association – then I joined Blacon Health Partnership. About five years ago I joined the West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as a patient leader. Then I came over to CWP as a volunteer – sharing my lived experience of services with patients and staff.
After that I became a CWP service user governor and I remain one to this day – supporting CWP’s board and members.
Since being diagnosed two years ago I’m particularly interested in autism and I sit on CWP’s autism strategy group. The group has made big improvements in assessment and diagnosis for autism in the last couple of years.
Aside from CWP I’m involved with 24 different groups, which keeps me busy to say the least! For example, I’m co-chair of the Cheshire West and Cheshire Mental Health Partnership Board and secretary of the West Cheshire Mental Health Forum.
Why do you think volunteering is important?
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Britain. If we didn’t have them, 9/10ths of things wouldn’t get done! Look at the numbers of volunteers you see in shops.
For me, it gets me out of the house and thinking about positive things, which supports my mental health. I know what it’s like to be in a cycle of depression and anxiety and volunteering with such great people keeps my brain exercised and my thoughts positive.