In each edition of our newsletter, we include a Being… article in which we hear from somebody connected to Barnet Mencap in some way – it could be a client, staff member, volunteer, family carer or just somebody from another organisation we work with. This time, it’s Shyam Chandarana, one of our office volunteers and a member of our social projects. Over to Shyam…
I was born in Whittington Hospital at 2:55 in the morning. My parents’ youngest child, I have one real sister, and one cousin-sister – but I treat her like a real sister. It wasn’t too bad growing up as the only boy with two sisters. It was nice to grow up together. We’ve had a lot of fun together. The same as watching WWE wrestling, EastEnders, and drinking pina coladas, I like seeing my niece, nephew, aunt, and uncle. I used to stay at my aunt’s every weekend and see them all but stopped seeing them as often because of Covid. I did miss going to my aunt and uncle’s though, because I was brought up with them when we used to live together.
Other than that, Covid hasn’t negatively affected me as such because I’ve had lots of nice activities through COPs [Community Opportunities Project providing leisure and learning activities] with Barnet Mencap. When it was lockdown, it was online and then, as the lockdown lifted, in person. It was good being online. It gave me something to do. The events are quite good. I’ve enjoyed and like all of them really. At the moment, I’m just on Fit2gether and I do enjoy it.
I really like coming to work at Barnet Mencap – so much so that even if I’m booked on an activity and I’m called in, I try to cancel my activity because I just enjoy working here. I’m always ready by 8:30 am so I’m prepared that if I’m called in, I can just leave straight away. I’m not that sort of person where if I get a phone call then I would have to go and shower and have breakfast. I like to be ready so I’m not wasting any time; and even if I don’t get called in, I like to just be ready.
On the days when I come to work, I wake up at 5:30-6:00am. I like what I do; it’s quite nice and relaxing. There’s no pressure. I think all the team are nice and helpful, they’re really kind. And even though some people have left, and new people have joined, it still has the same environment. It feels like my second family. I don’t have to worry about how people are going to react if I don’t do it right, or if I’m slow or anything. That’s how it should be really, so you don’t you feel awkward. And I’m that sort of person that if I’ve been given a task, I need to make sure I’ve finished it before I leave – even though the team don’t mind if I don’t. They’ve given me my own space to settle in, no pressure whatsoever.
I’ve been a volunteer with Barnet Mencap for more than 2 years now and I’ve learnt different skills like taking calls, sending emails, booking and cancelling people for events. I’ve helped with shredding, mail-outs, and interviews and I’ve achieved quite a bit and gained a lot of experience. Before I used to be really, really shy, but I feel like I’ve opened up. In the future, I would like to have a paid part-time office job. I’m not sure if I’ll find anything like Barnet Mencap anywhere else, but I just have to think positively. And if there’s a part-time receptionist job going for Barnet Mencap, I would happily go for it because I know what I’m doing, don’t need any sort of training, and I just like the people.