Here our Ambassadors are sharing their thoughts, ideas and experiences with us
Karen’s Blog – Karen tells us about her experience volunteering for the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
I’ve just completed volunteering with the Filmhouse at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018. This was my first year as a volunteer. However, I had gone along as part of get2gether when we had our cinema events there, as well as when Buggy Off was shown as part of Accessibility Week. I’ve always liked hanging out there, whether it be to go and see movies or just visit the café, so when I saw the opportunity to help out in the Film Festival I thought, “why not?!”
After a short application, I was called for interview. It was only a few questions about why I wanted to volunteer and what areas I want to volunteer in. There are a variety of different volunteer roles that you can do. This year I volunteered in video tech. It involved signing in delegates so they could view online movies in a series of booths. These booths show exclusive films submitted by the filmmakers in a variety of different categories ranging from Best of British and animation to world cinema.
During the time you work with other volunteers and get to watch films when you’re not busy, as well as getting some good chat and some free caramel wafers (which went down well!). I would highly recommend it if you want to get experience working at a busy festival. There are loads of different areas that you can try out ranging from front of house to press to working with venues all across the city. It’s a good opportunity to find out how festivals work.
Something that came across was that it was really important that the people of Edinburgh feel involved and included – and it becomes their Festival. That was really nice and I also felt really valued as a volunteer.
I managed to watch several films too! I would say my highlight was ‘Eaten by Lions’ which tells the story of two brothers who go travelling to find their estranged father. It’s a British made comedy. It was making me laugh so much with my headphones on that my colleague who was also volunteering decided to watch it too!
If you get a chance to volunteer next year I would say go for it! It gives you great experience if you want to learn some skills in PR or front of house, as well as a chance to see what it’s like to work in the industry. I felt really well supported and the staff who interviewed me really listened to what I needed and that’s really important. I’m hoping that if I do it again next year that I can be even more involved.
I think as long as you’re able to put forward what you need in order to take part the staff will do everything they can to accommodate you and make sure that you have a good time and get as much out of the experience as you can. I think it’s important to be upfront and honest about what you need as it’s a very busy few weeks. If you want to chat about it and find out more, feel free to get in touch!
For more info on the Edinburgh International Film Festival, check out their website.
Katrina’s blog – get2gether’s new Ambassador has a chat with East and Midlothian events co-ordinator about her new job.
Katrina, welcome! How would you describe yourself?
I am friendly, very chatty and enjoy meeting new people. I have a lot of interests and like to chat about all sorts of different things. I really like chart music and musicals. I am a nice person and I am looking forward to meeting people that come to along to get2gether events.
Why did you apply for the Ambassador’s post?
I applied to have a new experience and I also wanted to earn some money. Being Ambassador means that you get to meet new people and to organise events, that means I get the opportunity to learn new things and socialise.
I wanted to see if I could get the job – and I did get it! It’s a good job, hopefully I’ll get to host a lot of exciting events in the next few months and meet lots of new people.
What exciting events have you got planned?
Well, as you know there was the Valentine’s Night in Musselburgh, which was quite popular. We are also having a Karaoke in East Lothian very soon and I am thinking of organising a Ladies Day out at the Race Course in Musselburgh – which will be in June, I looked into it!
Sounds really great! And what did you do before you were an Ambassador?
I did a “Care for the Elderly” course in college, but I could not continue with the course as there were too many people already doing it. After that I worked at the Engine Shed, making tofu.
I do a lot of volunteering at the charity shop and at the café in Stockbridge – I work for Life Care, they do charity work. As now I’ve got the Ambassador’s job I’ve taken February off from voluntary work, just to see how things are getting on with my job and how much time I will have to do volunteering.
What does it mean to you to have a job?
It means a lot of responsibility! It means I need to be at a certain place on time, not to be late. But at the same time it is very exciting, because there are so many things for me to learn.
I never thought I would get a job! I’m proud to be part of the team and earn some of my own money.
What would you like to say to get2gether’s members?
I joined get2gether a while back because I wanted to meet someone. I am still single but I have met someone and I really enjoy his company. You know, you hear about all these stories at the CAV (well, now ATIK), where people get engaged and I’m always thinking – that could be me, one day!
I would also like to encourage people to apply for an ambassador job if it comes up again, it’s really good! Also, come along to events, enjoy it when you can, get2gether is great – make the most of it!
Karen has been shortlisted to volunteer with the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – read her blog to find out about her interview and more!
Last year I applied to become a volunteer with the European Championships 2018 which are being hosted by Glasgow. I recently had my skills interview where I was asked questions about why I applied and what I thought I could bring to the team.
Being part of the Volunteer team means that I will work in shifts with people from all over Scotland and maybe even further afield to help host various sports events across the city. I was shortlisted from 10,000 people down to 3,000 people, so you could say I’m just a little bit ecstatic.
The main reason I decided to apply was because I have been interested in sport all my life and have played various sports including tennis, wheelchair fencing, boccia and more recently indoor bowls. I see sport as an integral part of my lifestyle as well as something that helps me stay active and manage my condition.
I was extremely nervous when travelling for my interview as I had already been through this process twice before: I applied for the 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I wasn’t successful so I was a little bit apprehensive that I wasn’t going to come up to the mark this time.
When I arrived at the venue I was met by a lovely woman who took me through to the interview. In the interview they asked me some questions, unfortunately I can’t tell you what they were as there are still interviews going on and I’m sworn to secrecy!
I felt at ease and I was able to talk about my experiences of being part of a team and also some of the challenges I have faced. I am looking forward the challenge of being part of something like this if I’m accepted. This will be definitely something out of my comfort zone: I’m used to putting on some pretty cool events with get2gether but we do work on a much smaller scale! I like small scale events because we get to know our members really well but this will be something completely different!
Have you been to or volunteered at any big events? Perhaps the 2012 Olympics in London or the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow? Why not share your memories, or even some pictures. We’d love to hear from you!
Find out more about the European Championships here.
Meet Andrew, get2gether’s first Ambassador for Midlothian
Congratulations, Andrew, you are get2gether’s new Ambassador. Tell us, why did you apply for this role?
Initially I thought I was applying for a volunteer post, but when I heard from Marion it was a paid job, I went with the flow.
I didn’t really have the confidence to apply for a paid job, but Marion and the team believe in me and I am enjoying the work very much.
To do something like a paid job I never thought I was equipped to do is fantastic. I am like my clever brothers now.
And how did you find the interview process?
I found the interview relaxed. I sense Marion felt my nervousness at the importance of the interview and I felt the room was wanting me to show my best. Not a cold interview like one I have had in the past … They kinda wanted me to show the best of me.
You’ve already hosted your first Ambassador events. How did it feel being an events host?
I was thinking some members would not have come if it wasn’t a get2gether event. Members arrived, had fun and I mixed and mingled.
I can be lively, which I think is handy as an Ambassador.
Did you encounter any challenges?
I was at the event half an hour before, but no-one approached me for advice to get in. I was so relieved that everyone had the confidence to enter themselves. One member brought his whole family and it worked out fine.
Finding my way about is a challenge I took on and I feel I have overcome, thanks to get2gether. My travelling opportunities are much wider since joining get2gether.
What are your hopes for your Ambassador post?
Even wee things like the newsletter: to give it a trendy name as with the ATIK nights.
I hope to put on joint events with my Ambassador colleague Karen.
Katrina showed friendship as an encouragement for me to grow. I can only hope that as I get more confidence, I can add to the success of get2gether.
And what would you like to achieve?
Just what I said above and to grow in confidence.
Add things and events that folk never thought of, to surprise our members.
With the relaxed nature of get2gether, I’d like to add to get2gether … simply to publicise events and to get more people to sign up.
I want to tell people what get2gether is all about.
I get lonely when I’m just sitting at home and if you are lonely, get2gether is for you.
get2gether’s Ambassador Karen is talking about getting a job
When I’m asked what get2gether means to me, it’s really difficult to put into words. In the beginning it felt like a dream. Getting a job for me was something that was not achievable, and it’s so strange because why did I do all the things I did? Why go to university, volunteer, write a CV?
I think the reason I felt I’d never have a job simply was fear, fear of change, or fear that you’re a failure, and making mistakes. Why? Because in every day life that’s what happens isn’t it? Let me tell you that I am not someone who has been wrapped up in cotton wool, but I think looking back I have been protected from all those things. I’ve been told just leave things as they are, because why would you want to change something when change might be difficult? And to be honest this was a very real concern for me even at the application stage for get2gether but I knew something had to change.
I had a horrendous experience when travelling on the bus. For the first time in my life, events had made me feel like somebody held a mirror in front of me and I didn’t know who I was any more. I’ve lived with Cerebral Palsy all my life but never really thought about how other people saw me. I became very withdrawn and started to question every decision about my life. Was I disabled enough? How do people look at me? How was my life going to change? Do I have any control over it? At one stage I felt so overwhelmed that I would say I was having mental health issues.
It was at that point in my life that I saw the get2gether job advert. The rest, as they say, is history but, ah, this was only the beginning. Nearly two years later I am now on the bus, I’m in the door and have still got much more to do.
During my time as a get2gether Ambassador I have ran my own social events which have included coffee meet-ups and a cinema trip as well as board games.
Before getting the job with get2gether I was always an active volunteer and that would mean that I would meet new people regularly. But getting the job made me realise that people are relying on me. It wasn’t just turning up and taking part which so many disabled people do, but it was having to be responsible. I have to say that as someone with a disability and long-term chronic condition this is not always straightforward. It is very challenging to find myself in charge or even a leader and I have had to overcome anxiety and build up my confidence. This is how we all learn.
get2gether’s Ambassador Karen hosted a visit to the Cameo to watch T2 – Trainspotting.
Okay, so a group of us as part of get2gether went to see Trainspotting 2, and I have to say it was absolutely brilliant. Really enjoyed it from beginning to end.
Having seen Transporting the first time round several years after its original release date it was a film that definitely stuck in my mind for it’s dark and edgy portrayal of Edinburgh as somewhat grubby drug scene.
I have to admit that I couldn’t really relate to very much and just remember being quite shocked by some of the hard-hitting drug induced fantasy scenes such as the disgusting toilet scene which Boyle subtly referenced to in the sequel.
I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t been to see it yet but you won’t be disappointed as you get to see all the characters’ quirks – although it isn’t as sentimental as Renton would like to think.
You learn of their journeys over the last 20 years through the artistry of Boyle’s direction there are modern twists on how the camera takes us on this journey.
As a member of the audience and a resident of Edinburgh I love the way we were taken on the journey with the characters showing all the new parts of Edinburgh.
I know some areas are desperately trying to move forward and modernise but you can see still see the scars on the buildings and people.
Although it is only 20 years and I just feel that, as I was watching, the city is in some way moving forward and after a tremendous improvement of transport and great services and events still has the character and roughness around the edges.
This makes it a uniquely intriguing place to observe on the big screen and was so proud to be in the audience.
It was great that we were in the Cameo – a great accessible arts cinema and staff couldn’t be more friendly – where the original film was premiered back in the 1990s.
I feel it was a nice way to celebrate this coming of age film well worth a watch and, you may even see some popular places that you have recently been to – including the CAV! Did you spot it?
See you at our next club night at the CAV on Thursday, 16th February!
Have you seen T2? Let us know your views!
get2gether has recently appointed two new Ambassadors, we’ve caught up with Karen to learn more about her role
g2g: Congratulations, Karen, you are one of get2gether’s new Ambassadors. Tell us, why did you apply for this role?
I wanted to apply for the Ambassador role as I really enjoyed being part of get2gether and I wanted to expand on the work I had done the year before.
g2g: So, you were an Ambassador before, what did you enjoy most about this role?
I liked hosting the Meet your Ambassador events and I got to know people on an individual basis. I also noticed, that I have the confidence to go out there and do things for myself …
g2g: You were hosting your own events without get2gether staff present, can you tell us more about your events?
I hosted a few events, meeting for coffee, a trip to the cinema, out for a meal, and linking with another Ambassador for a buffet – for some reason food is always a winner – I can’t think why 😛
g2g: How did it feel being an events host?
To be honest, the first few events made me feel really anxious, as I worried that something goes wrong or nobody showed up. But the more events I did the more relaxed and positive I became about the next ones.
g2g: Did you encounter any challenges?
The main challenges were trusting myself that I could do this and keeping myself calm when dealing with groups (the group bill was something I worried about, but I learned to be clear with people from the start that they had to ensure they had the right money and were responsible for paying for their own food etc.).
I think I have learnt a lot about myself by doing these events and what support I need, and where it is appropriate to ask others to help you out with this.
g2g: What are your hopes for this role?
To continue to grow in confidence and get involved in more of the running of what you guys (the members) want to do. To take on more responsibilities in order for get2gether to branch out across Scotland and make more fun and memories for people to look back on and smile.
And to spread the word more about what get2gether does so that everyone can have the opportunity to go and live the life they want.
g2g: Do you already have a to-do list? What are you planning to do first?
Firstly, to finish the Buggy Off film which I have been working on with get2gether. After that I am not quite sure.
g2g: And finally: what are your hopes for get2gether?
My hopes are that get2gether continues to grow, I hope that members get to make their own short films, and take part in things they want to and that the Ambassador’s role continues and that more and more disabled people get the chance to have paid employment.
Thank you so much Karen, for this interview, and good luck with your new job!
Mairi Therese, our new Ambassador, introduces herself and shares her thoughts on her recent interview experience
I have always taken pride in the fact that I am an independent individual.
get2gether has helped me realise my full potential.
Being interviewed for the job of an Ambassador was a rewarding experience. I made sure I prepared and researched my role.
I am now organising my first event – an informal book club – and I am a bit nervous because this is the first time I have organised anything by myself.
get2gether has made realise that anything is possible and friendship is a given.
For the first time in my life I do not have to explain my disability or medical history this is so refreshing for me.
As one member told me labels are for cans and jars not for humans – that has stuck with me because it has made me revalue myself.
I think get2gether is awesome because I have made friends old and new.
Kirsteen, our Edinburgh Ambassador on her favourite places, getting around and rhododendron buds
It’s March now and the days are getting longer. The Botanics are open till six o’clock and this makes it easier for me to visit.
The Botanic Gardens are one of my favourite places. I live quite nearby and can borrow a mobility scooter to get around. They are available to any disabled visitor. A small donation towards the upkeep of the scooters is suggested.
I am enjoying the early signs of spring – the snowdrops and the swelling buds. I am especially keeping my eye on the rhododendron buds. The Botanics has a large selection of rhododendron species which flower throughout spring and early summer. I love these large showy flowers.
If you are disabled getting around is a big problem. Each person will have different degrees of disability and different aspirations, requiring different solutions.
As a child I had various trikes and bikes with stabilisers. They gave me exercise and a lot of fun, too.
Later on I had a much more exciting mode of transport – an Outrider trike. This was petrol driven, looked a bit like the quad bikes that farmers use but smaller and fixed in first gear, so that I couldn’t go too fast!
This wonderful machine enabled me to go on beaches, around country parks, bounce up and down kerbs and have some great adventures!
The Outrider was towed on a trailer behind the car and eventually it was replaced by a mobility scooter which can be hoisted in and out of the car boot.
The scooter is a good way of getting around, too, and can be used indoors which was not the case with the Outrider, with its exhaust fumes! However, it can’t go on beaches and I can’t be too adventurous in the countryside.
In addition getting around town on it is not without challenges in the form of high kerbs and cobbled roads, which shake me and the scooter to pieces!
So, getting back to the Botanics, being able to borrow a large, comfortable scooter and roam around a beautiful garden is wonderful and last time I was there, some of those rhododendron buds had opened into amazing pink blossoms!