Volunteering helps keep Gus occupied and creates many opportunities for him

Gus is making a real difference to the lives of people in Cheshire West and Chester by volunteering for projects close to his heart and helping make lasting change.

He has been busy giving up his spare time for the past 15 years since retiring to help create opportunities for everyone in the borough. Gus was diagnosed autistic at the age of 70 and has been a constant champion for autistic people, as well as those who have experienced mental health problems or poverty.

He became a Community Inspirer for the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission (WCPTC) in 2018 and is now part of the Advisory Board. The PTC makes sure people with lived experience are at the heart of how the borough thinks and acts when tackling poverty and inequality.

Gus’ other volunteering roles are extensive and he has recently been appointed as the Chair of the brand-new West Cheshire Autism Hub, a welcoming space for autistic adults and their families to attend and access the support they need.

He said: “Volunteering keeps my mind occupied as it gives me something to do so I’m not worrying.

“I only wish I’d started volunteering when I was younger. It’s all about filling your mind with good stuff.

“I’ve lived in or near poverty all my life and that’s because of my autism, which I wasn’t diagnosed with until I was 70.

“Since I’ve had to stop work, I’ve been taking a lot of courses to try and educate myself and I’ve passed a lot of exams in that time.

“I’ve built up my portfolio and I’ve managed to get some management roles through volunteering.

“I write down a lot of things about what I want to see going into the future and that’s mainly focused on health inequalities in Cheshire West and Chester.

“I’m one of the people who’s suffering from health inequalities as I live in an area where we have a lower figure for life expectancy.

“Before I started volunteering, I didn’t leave the house much so it’s really helped. I’d encourage anyone else like me to think about volunteering.”

While Gus doesn’t volunteer for praise, he was named Cheshire West Voluntary Action’s (CWVA) Older Volunteer of the Year in 2019, highlighting the difference he makes through volunteering.

He added: “I enjoyed being given the award and a couple of minutes of recognition, but I never want any praise or anything like that.

“I definitely don’t do it for the awards and I personally always see volunteering as work as I want to make a difference.

“As we come out of lockdown, it’s important we have more opportunities and people volunteering so we’re ready to offer people the support they need.”

If you have ideas for improvement, experience, insight or skills to offer, or would like to become a Community Inspirer, please email: westcheshire.povertytruth@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

CWVA’s new volunteering platform has a range of opportunities across Cheshire West and Chester so people can find something that’s right for them and their interests.

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