Mike has been volunteering for the North London choir for nearly six years, as a kitchen helper.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START VOLUNTEERING FOR THE CHOIR WITH NO NAME?
It was a perfect combination of three things I was already passionate about: singing in a choir (I had previously been in a community choir); working with homeless people (I had previously volunteered at Crisis); and cooking (which I have always loved). I heard about the choir when my wife saw a copy of “Choir With No Name News #3” back in August 2008.
PLEASE TELL US YOUR THREE FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT VOLUNTEERING.
The best thing is spending time with the choir members. There have been times when I’ve been in a bad patch, and arrived at the choir feeling down, and some of the choir members can be very supportive. I guess because they’ve known bad times themselves. It’s great to talk to them, and to see people growing and gaining confidence from the choir.
Secondly, singing always physically lifts my spirits.
And thirdly, it’s also a pleasure seeing plates come back empty, knowing people have had a solid meal. That’s always a good place to start as far as I am concerned.
HAS THERE BEEN AN UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT? WHAT WAS IT?
There have been many unforgettable moments. Being on stage with Coldplay was one. And actually a weird evening with the choir singing at a karaoke bar in Newcastle on that same trip. On a more highbrow note, singing Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” was unforgettable too.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY?
Well, I have had to face up to my own tendency to be a bit bossy in the kitchen; not quite as shouty as my hero Gordon Ramsay, but I do have definite 'views' on how things are to be done.
AND WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT VOLUNTEERING FOR US?
I don’t have a 'day job'. I am a grandparent, a runner, a member of the Crisis Christmas team, an AFC Wimbledon season ticket holder, and also volunteer at a Buddhist retreat centre in Scotland.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I really believe in the Choir with No Name. It’s not just 'teaching people to sing'. People learn some really important things there, about being part of something, about turning up, about cooperating with other people, balancing your voice with theirs, being valued, doing the work. These are lessons we can take into all kinds of other settings.
If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch to find out more – our choir managers will be delighted to hear from you!