News • 04 Jun 2018

Employee profile: spreading the Open Minds message around the world

Employee profile: spreading the Open Minds message around the world
Bridget with the Scottish Shooting team

Spreading the Open Minds message around the world

 

Bridget Farrar is a Respite effect / LSS West Team Support Worker at Open Minds, and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet athletes from across the world, volunteering at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018.

Bridget’s journey to volunteer at the Games started a long time ago; she’s always been a passionate athlete herself she had aspired to compete at the Games.

Bridget played rugby and soccer, as well as doing lots of cycling and swimming.

As she didn’t have the chance to compete, Bridget was excited at the opportunity of doing the next best thing and volunteering at the Games while it was nearby on the Gold Coast.

Well over a year before the Games started, Bridget spotted an advert online inviting people to apply to be a Games Shaper – a volunteer at the Games and a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Of the staggeringly high 43,000 people that applied to be a Games Shaper, only 1,300 people were successful – Bridget included.

 

Bridget holding the Queen's Baton

 

Bridget and the other Games Shapers had a whole year of comprehensive training to prepare them for the Games, this was not a job for those shy to commitment!

Bridget said: “The highlight for me was getting to meet and chat to so many different people from around the world. To name a few, it was amazing to meet the Scottish shooting team, and Sally Pearson – an Australian athlete who had handed the Queens baton to Prince Charles!”

Bridget had hoped to work in the Athlete’s Village, but was allocated the job of a driver – this meant driving athletes and officials to and from the airport and the various events.

“At first I thought I had drawn the short straw with the driving job, however this turned out to be the best job by far! I got to have so many interesting conversations, and laugh and joke with some incredible athletes.

“Open Minds came up a lot in conversation – so people all around the world now know what great things our organisation does!”

Bridget also got to volunteer for longer than the 11 days of the Games; as she was needed to do the airport pick ups and drop offs, she started on 20th March and didn’t finish until 18th April.

Each of the official cars had tracking devices on, so that the Games team leaders could keep an eye on progress for each journey. Special lanes were created for the Games cars to drive in, to ensure they wouldn’t be caught in traffic whilst driving to events. 

“You can imagine the athletes wanting to stop for food and coffees every now and then! So I often had to call my team leader to inform them we were making a detour. This was usually fine as long as we kept them in the loop.”

Bridget had made arrangements with her manager to ensure she could fit in the volunteering time. This still meant that some days Bridget would get in from a day working for Open Minds and go straight to a volunteering shift from 6pm – 1am, getting just a few hours of sleep before doing it all over again.

“The biggest challenge for me was how tiring it was juggling work and volunteering. It also meant my family were often left to fend for themselves. It was worth it for the incredible experience though.”

Bridget currently supports six Open Minds clients, and believes that her experiences at Open Minds really helped her perform her volunteering role.

“I believe in having mutual respect between myself and my clients, and this is how I treated everyone I met at the Games.

“All my clients loved hearing about the adventures I had been having, and wanted to see my photos. Some of them got to see me in my Games Shapers uniform which they were really impressed by.

“Overall it was a fantastic experience and I’d encourage other employees to get out there and do some volunteering, whatever it is you are passionate about!

“A big thank you to my Case Team Leader, Michelle Vaughan, and to all my clients and colleagues for being so understanding and enabling me to have this experience.”

If you want to find out what employment opportunities we currently have at Open Minds, click here to find out more.