Up until very recently, Splott resident Brendan O’Shea was a volunteer at STAR Communities First, helping out at the office on Splott Road. Brendan posted a lovely farewell message on Facebook after his last shift about the opportunities volunteering gave him and how it made him feel.
Inksplott caught up with Brendan to find out what volunteering meant to him:
Inksplott: Hi Brendan, thanks so much for being interviewed. Your post on Facebook was lovely. Can I ask how you got into volunteering with STAR Communities First?
Brendan: I went to a street reps meeting and because the receptionist was still on holidays I was asked to stand-in the next morning. I was told just to get everybody to sign in, note who they wanted to see and what the appointment was about.
Inksplott: What did you do as part of your volunteering?
Brendan: Meet and greet the clients and find out who was the best advisor to help them. Later, I helped out setting up the laptops aiding with problems (minor ones). Checking the photocopier had paper and the tea urn had water and also any odd jobs that needed doing like copying passports and papers.
Inksplott: so volunteering kept you busy?
Brendan: Yes it did; it gave me some purpose helping others rather than sitting reading or watching films on the laptop. I felt that in some small way I was helping the unemployed underprivileged members of this community to get a job or advice.
Inksplott: What’s your best story about volunteering at STAR Communities First? Did anything funny happen while you were there? Did something amazing happen?
Brendan: Two clients came in the same day to see their advisors and during the conversations it came up that they both had jobs. One gent had very poor English skills but was very determined to get a job to support his family. I put up a notice to encourage others:
Two of our clients today got jobs
So don’t give up
Inksplott: How do you feel about Communities First ending?
Brendan: I think from what I have heard the late Mr Sargent said the some C.F.’s (Communities First) were good and others not good. I believe that some people from the good should have been spread out. It was like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Inksplott: Are you from Splott – what’s your association with the area?
Brendan: I was born and brought up in Splott on Carlisle St. My parents were both Irish one from the North and the other from the South. My mother was adopted by an Aunt and Uncle who had no children. Mam was from a large family. The Uncle came to Cardiff when he was sacked from the police in Belfast for being a Catholic. My Dad was working for the GPO labouring. I and my brother and sister went to St Alban”s school and Church. My parents had a small shop, an outside toilet and a tin bath by the fire (so I am not a snob!!!).
Inksplott: Tell us something about Splott that we may not know.
Brendan: It was tight knit community here all knew each other. If I did something wrong, my Dad or Mam soon knew about it. Also people would help each other.
Inksplott: Have you got a message for anyone else out there who may benefit from volunteering?
Brendan: Just do it ! As somebody said “You have nothing to Fear except Fear itself”.
Thank you Brendan for the interview and for all your hours volunteering in Splott. We wish you all the best for the future!