Volunteering with The Advocacy People
Volunteers carry out a variety of roles in The Advocacy People’s teams, from case work with clients, to being ambassadors for the organisation at forums and events, and administrative support work. And that’s not forgetting the crucial role at the heart of the organisation played by the volunteer board of trustees.
Claire Payne in Berkshire is one of two volunteer coordinators for The Advocacy People, along with Sallie Allison, who’s based in Plymouth.
In the Berkshire team alone, volunteers donated almost 270 hours in the last year.
“That’s an awful lot of time – and the added service value that they bring to the organisation is phenomenal."
“But aside from that, people are bringing many different skills who come from different walks of life and offer a range of diversity. Not only do our volunteers offer time, but also their own skills to help with areas of our work such as teaching Makaton.
“Sometimes, a person might want to upskill in a certain area, and we are pleased to be able to help. Volunteering really can be a good bridge to new employment. We have helped several volunteers into paid employment through upskilling.
“More often than not, new volunteers simply want to do something good. I feel our volunteers are very much people who want to give back to the community, and are completely selfless, they just want to help.
“Words cannot thank the volunteers enough for what they do and the massive contributions they bring to both the people we work with and the team.”
Over the last couple of years Claire and Sallie, together with the Volunteer Focus Group, have worked hard to unify the process for welcoming and training volunteers, and to improve the resources that are provided. Having a proper structure in place not only makes it easier to bring volunteers on board, says Claire, but it was also part of recognising the huge contribution made by volunteers to the organisation.
The newly-launched volunteer portal is a one-stop-shop where people can log their hours, access and share documents safely with each other and staff, and use emails or other programmes they might need in the course of their work.
The portal also allows volunteers throughout the organisation to link together, where they can find out the latest news and share ideas and have discussions with their peers.
Team manager Ann Standen says that Berkshire has been lucky to have a stable group of volunteers as part of the team for more than six years.
“They are an intrinsic part of the team and add so much to our offer, from supporting on contract monitoring, to attending events, supporting groups, and teaching us all Makaton to name just a few of the ways they have offered freely of their time.
“Every one of the volunteers deserves our humble thanks and long may they continue with us.”