A Volunteer's Perspective
Volunteers with The Advocacy People come from a huge range of backgrounds.
As well as giving generously of their time, they bring their professional and life experience to the role, benefitting our charity and the people who need us most – those for whom we advocate.
Volunteering is not only a great way to boost your skills, it can often act as a useful bridge into new, paid employment.
We spoke to two of our volunteers, Mikal and Pauline, about why they joined The Advocacy People and what it means to them.
Mikal Rahman, who lives in Maidenhead, joined The Advocacy People in October 2021.
Having started out with a career in IT, Mikal now works as an independent financial trader. He also wants to work in administration.
What made you want to volunteer?
I had not done professional administrative work for some time and I wanted to get some fresh experience and further enhance my skills in this field.
I was also attracted to The Advocacy People itself due to the really good work they do to help vulnerable people in the community. Although I was not going to be helping these people directly in my work as an administrator, I would be providing a support function to the advocates who were.
In my volunteer role I perform some of the administrative tasks that help support the advocates. This includes making sure the charity’s database is up-to-date with the clients' vital information. I also assist in the writing up of the organisation's quarterly reports.
The amount of time I give varies, as it depends on which tasks need to be performed. For example, if it’s time to produce the quarterly reports, this could mean working several hours in a week.
Would you recommend becoming a volunteer?
I think volunteering can help people who are in different stages of their professional lives. Personally, I was looking to gain work experience and further develop my skills in a field in which I had previously worked.
Someone who is looking for a change in their career and who would like to gain experience in a completely different field would benefit from volunteering as well.
On the other hand, a retired professional who would like to continue working professionally during the week, but who does not want the intensity of a full-time job, would also gain a lot from volunteering.
On top of this, there is the satisfaction one gets from doing volunteer work for a not-for-profit organisation, such as The Advocacy People, whose goal is to help bring improvement to the lives of other people.
Is it ever difficult? What kinds of support do you get from the organisation or staff?
I would not say that I have had any difficult times here, thankfully! Of course, whenever you start a new role, there is a learning period where it takes a bit of time to understand the tasks and what is required of you.
I received great help right from the start from our volunteer coordinator, Claire, who together with another one of the volunteers, David, provided me with very useful training and training material for my tasks.
The first few times I did these tasks, Claire gave me guidance, and she still helps me out in parts of the tasks where she has more expertise. I am very grateful for all of this, as well as for the appreciation that she and our team manager, Ann, have shown me for my work.
The whole team here actually is very supportive and friendly. This comes through in my one-on-one interactions with them, as well as in our team meetings, which always have a very pleasant atmosphere.
Several people who’ve volunteered their time have gone on to paid roles, either in related fields outside the organisation or with The Advocacy People.
Among them is Pauline Shumba, who was a volunteer and is now a staff member on the Berkshire team.
I volunteered for about eight months in 2020, so I could learn more about advocacy and The Advocacy People. The experience helped me understand the role of advocacy and how much of an impact I could have on people lives, and I was supported to learn and grow.
I saw a job advert on LinkedIn, and I applied. My interview was not daunting because I already knew what the job role was all about – thanks to my volunteering.
The hours were flexible when I started, and after a few months, I was supported to increase my working hours. The team were very encouraging: if I had any questions all I had to do was ask. This was my first job working from home and the income was great.
Working in this role has taught me how to be observant and how to listen, and has increased my communication skills.
If I make a visit to a client, I make sure I am there to support them to the best of my abilities. When an individual is not being heard, I am there to ensure that they are being listened to. This has a huge impact on people lives.
As a volunteer I was limited to how much work I could take on, because I was only able to contribute a few hours of my time. Now, as a paid advocate, I work over a range of the services we provide, and I can help more people.
I love my job, which is so rewarding. I ensure that peoples wishes, choices and views are being heard.
If you are a caring person and you want to make a difference in people’s lives, or you are wanting to expand your skills in listening and observation and want to learn more about advocacy in a truly rewarding role, then joining the team will be one decision you will not regret. I know I don’t!
Would you be interested in a volunteer role with The Advocacy People?
You can fill out an expression of interest form here.
Or, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org