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Being unfair? I don't know


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I'm probably just being a bit stupid with this. But it's getting me down. Not sure if this is in the right place either but anyway.


I do voluntary work for a brilliant organisation and enjoy it a lot. I've done it for just over a year. I can't say what organisation it is but I really believe in what they do, I enjoy doing something that I know is helping other people and it kills time.


But lately I've felt like I'm being... I don't know, not treated fairly maybe?


The last few months I've been covering lots of shifts for people. I'm working part time aswell and at the moment I'm at the voluntary job almost every day. I didn't mind this at first but now it's getting a bit much. We have a system where we can swap shifts online. I've covered a few peoples shifts but haven't really needed any of them to cover my shifts, I haven't minded helping people out when I'm not doing anything myself. This isn't a problem. A few people I've covered shifts for have emailed and asked if there's any shifts I need them to cover and I've told them not at the moment but if I do need them to in future I'll let them know.


So the past week I've been there every day except today. I need a break. My boyfriend's taken a couple of days off work this weekend (very difficult for him to get these days off). I'm meant to be at the voluntary job all Sunday but told him I'd try to get someone to cover my shift so we could spent some time together and maybe go somewhere for the weekend. I'm also supposed to do a 8 hour night shift tomorrow night but I'm just exhausted. I've been there till late at night and haven't had much time to sleep really. I'm worried I'm going to have an accident if I have to go do this night shift tomorrow night. So I've sent an email to everyone asking if someone could cover these shifts, or at least one of them so I can spend some time with my friends and boyfriend and get back into a normal sleep pattern (my body clock is way out at the moment). I sent this email yesterday and no response.


Now I'm annoyed. Just before Christmas the same thing happened and I did the same thing, said I needed a break because I was there all the time then I got an email from the boss saying he needed me to come in for a chat because he felt I "wasn't committed". He asked if I could email back giving him some times when I'd be free to come in for a chat. I was willing to do this and ask if I could have maybe fewer shifts just for a month or so so I could catch up on sleep and focus on studying. But he never replied and I haven't seen or been able to get back to him since.


So now I feel I'm going to get the "you're not committed enough" email again because I've asked for some of my shifts to be covered so I can go away with my boyfriend on the weekend. It seems likely that I'm not going to get anyone to cover my shifts and I'm going to have to do them all


I'm just so tired. I had to drive six hours for training on the weekend (not an issue I guess, they payed travel expenses, food etc), did extra work for them last night and have been doing shifts in between. Last night I wasn't home till gone midnight. Ah I'm just feeling really fed up.


I'm tempted to just take some time out, maybe a month or so. But I do enjoy it, especially while I'm not working full time anywhere else. I don't want to quite complelely but I'm worried unless something gets sorted I'm going to have to.


Ah, am I being unfair? Maybe I shouldn't complain so much, it is voluntary afterall.

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Ah I'm even more annoyed now. My boyfriend had a day off work yesterday and spent the day doing things for an interview he has coming up so we went out in the evening for dinner and to the cinema. Then I get a phone call while we were having dinner off one of the higher up type people questioning me about why I can't do my shifts on the weekend, that I'm making it awkward for other people and it's my duty to do the shift when I said I would. OK, that's all fair enough. But I've only ever asked for someone to cover my shifts and that was when my car was off the road and had so many other things going on aswell that I just couldn't get there. And that was just one shift.


So anyway. I've offered to cover a few peoples shifts but still no reply. The people I'm covering shifts for did say they'd be happy to cover any shifts on weekends or evenings. So I've asked if they could cover my shifts on the weekend. I'd at least like some kind of answer saying yes or no but doesn't seem like I'm going to get anything.


So last night while we were out for dinner I spent the whole night worrying about having to ring around to get someone to cover my shift. Boyfriend was worried because I was worried and says they're pushing me too much when I'm going sometimes 5 more shifts than I'm supposed to be doing a week and apparently I looked exhausted.


Ah annoying! Could understand if this was something I do all the time but I don't.

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Unfortunately, it's a question of PR, i.e. how you're presenting it. Your colleagues are taking advantage of you by arranging for you to cover their shifts without sending out mass e-mails, and citing good reasons why they need it, and you're doing it without your bosses even noticing. You, by contrast, are highlighting the fact that you can't do a shift, bringing it to the attention of your bosses, and not citing what they would consider to be a good reason.


You have two choices. One is simply quit, but I don't think you really want to do that. The second is to protect yourself with better PR and better management. Don't offer to cover shifts that will inconvenience you, only cover for people who really will cover you when you need it (and lock them into a specific commitment at the time if you need to), invent a better reason for time off than "I'm exhausted" which is never convincing to anyone, and stand up to your bosses both with facts about how much covering you've done vs how little covering you've asked for, and telling them you don't appreciate their supporting you being taken advantage of, and their attitude is considering making you quit and advise your friends to avoid the organisation.


In short, fight back and stop taking this behaviour from people.

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Yup, not fair. I once volunteered for someone who treated me like crap and wish I had spent my time elsewhere where my efforts WOULD be appreciated. I do volunteer at the food bank and they are always thanking me so I keep going. My other volunteer job, well, they don't seem to appreciate it much but I guess I'll keep doing it as it's only an hour a week and I get something out of it.

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