WHEN I left university in 1982, unemployment in Britain was at three million.
I came back to South Wales where jobs were even harder to come by than in the rest of the country.
I found myself vegetating at home, so decided to do some voluntary work. It was one of the best decisions I ever took.
It got me out of the house, doing something useful, meeting new people and learning new skills.
There are many community organisations that could not function without the help of volunteers, but many of them tell me that it is getting harder to find them.
I recently visited one such organisation, Home Start Ely.
They work with families with young children who are under pressure.
Home Start Ely needs volunteers who will get involved in supporting their families, and helping to give children a better start in life.
In the past year alone, 79 families and 127 children have been supported.
But it needs more volunteers to help carry out its invaluable work. It can be a tremendously rewarding experience.
One volunteer of two years said: 'The rewards of volunteer work are wonderful. Helping others makes you realise how lucky you are.
'I would recommend it to anyone. It has boosted my confidence and it makes you feel you have made a difference.'
Lauren is 10 years old.
Her family have been helped by Sharon, for whom Lauren wrote a poem:
As a family we want to say,
A great thank you to Sharon today
I'll tell you what she means to me
She's not just my friend, she's part of the family.
If you think you could help call Ely Home Start on 029 2057 8918 and you too could make a difference for other people.