Why I volunteer: Vijay Patel, photographer

Vijay photography volunteerVijay brings Coeliac UK’s stories to life by capturing our events on camera.

He explains how he uses his creativity to help others.

“After experiencing symptoms for two years, I was finally diagnosed with coeliac disease in March 2016. I spoke to a spouse’s friend, who also has coeliac disease, and she told me about Coeliac UK, and encouraged me to join.

“There’s so many events listed on Coeliac UK’s website throughout the year, so I applied to work as a volunteer photographer and was fortunate enough to get shortlisted. Photography is my hobby and I wanted to support the charity to help raise awareness, because there’s still so many who don’t understand the severity of coeliac disease.

“I use my skills to capture moments at events that happen throughout the year, and my work is often used in the charity’s marketing materials, newsletter and website. I really enjoy getting to know other volunteers, and being able to share stories and experiences with them. Interaction is so important, because it helps to spread awareness.

“One of my favourite moments was at an exhibition last year in Cardiff. It was an action packed day with so much going on, and in one of the shows the audience were even asked to clap for me! That moment still stands out today.

“I’m very conscious of being around a large group of people now that we have coronavirus, but it’s nice to be recognised and for my work to be appreciated, and I’d like to thank Coeliac UK for giving me the opportunity. Every day is a learning day and I’m always surprised at what I come across. I look forward to when events can resume as normal.

“I’d advise anyone who wants to volunteer to be patient, and be kind, because the team are lovely and you will meet great people along the journey.”

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