From 1-7th June, Change Grow Live celebrated Volunteers Week – to say thank you to all of the brilliant individuals who give their time for free to make a difference.
For Volunteers Week 2023, we wanted to say a massive thank you to every single Change Grow Live volunteer.
Last year, 1400 volunteers donated over a quarter of a million hours of their time between them to our organisation. We simply couldn’t do what we do at Change Grow Live without the passion, expertise and support of our amazing volunteers.
Life is busy, so giving your time for free to help others is always worth celebrating. And it makes a real difference, both to the people our volunteers work with, and to the volunteers themselves.
We want to introduce you to some of our fantastic volunteers, to give you a flavour of the different types of roles available. We hope their stories will inspire you to get involved and volunteer yourself!
Independent Visitors meet with young people within the care system once a month to do a fun activity together. The aim is for the young person to build a friendship with a consistent adult who isn’t paid to be there with them. It’s a great opportunity to help a young person and have fun while you’re at it!
Aaron volunteers as part of the Independent Visitor Service, in The Black Country, Telford and Wrekin.
This is his experience:
“In this role, you are working with young people who haven’t had consistency, trust, or resilience. To be that one ‘constant’ away from the paid professionals is an honour and a privilege.
“To make a small but positive difference in a young person’s life who may not have had the best start to life. Allowing them to know that this won’t be a barrier to new experiences, success, and growth.
“Volunteering gives me the opportunity to make a small but progressive difference in a young person’s life. It’s also lots of fun, I am a big kid at heart – so I enjoy doing all the things that my young person wants to do!”
Peer mentors in our drug and alcohol services use their lived experience to help people who want to make a change in their lives. Accessing our services for the first time can feel daunting, hearing from someone who knows what they are going through can make a big difference.
We have a number of peer mentor opportunities across the country. Karrol volunteered as a peer mentor in our Birmingham drug and alcohol service before joining the team as a drug and alcohol recovery coordinator.
Here’s what she had to say:
“Volunteering gave me confidence and got me out of the house and doing something worthwhile.
“Giving back does so much for your mental health, even if it’s a few hours a week. I felt listened to, valued and part of a team and always felt comfortable and not judged about my personal experience.
“I applied to work for Change Grow Live after volunteering for about 2 years. I’ve recently started my role as a Drug & Alcohol Recovery Coordinator, and I still feel comfortable and valued. I believe it’s because of my initial volunteering experience as well as the desire to help others.
“If I can inspire at least one person to volunteer it would truly be amazing!”
Here, she shares some of our favourite parts of volunteering in this role:
“I enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life and the variety of things I get involved with. I help people apply for their benefits, housing, creating CV’s and applying for jobs online. Some of the people I support are completely IT illiterate and it can be so daunting and a stressful process for them. I’ve sat with them while they’ve been on the telephone, and they get cut off. I’m there to reassure them that it will be ok and encourage them to try again.
“Some people have had a difficult life with very little support and it’s nice to be there for them, someone who is on their side to help them move forward. The people we support are people like us and it’s a privilege to be able to help build their confidence and have a path forward which may not seem so bleak.
“When you hear, “I just couldn’t have done this without you being here” it’s all worthwhile!”
Appropriate Adults work with young people or vulnerable people who have been arrested. Their role involves making sure a child or vulnerable adult understands what is happening and their rights. Often this will be someone’s parent or guardian, but when this is not possible Appropriate Adult volunteers offer their support. Paul volunteers in South Yorkshire as an Appropriate Adult.
Here’s his story:
“As an Appropriate Adult, we make sure whoever has been arrested or interviewed understands what’s happening and what’s going to happen. If I think something isn’t right, I’ll challenge it and I’ve done that quite a few times. It’s making sure that the person you’re there for feels supported regardless of what they’re being interviewed for. Whether it’s for shoplifting or for murder, I’m there for them and I treat everyone with the same level of courtesy and respect…
“Being an Appropriate Adult makes me feel like I have a purpose and I’m useful again. I was feeling really down, but it gave me something to focus on and something new. It’s something that really saved my sanity. I’m always trying to recruit other Appropriate Adult’s to join me!”
Glenice is a peer mentor at Kettering Substance to Solution. She uses her personal experience to help reassure people using our services. Here’s what she has to say:
“I chose to volunteer here because I wanted to help others the way I’d been helped by the service, putting people in the right direction.
“My role involves meeting people who are looking for support at the door. I introduce myself and if someone is nervous, I take them to one side and if needed, reassure them that nobody is judging or pointing the finger at them. I just want them to feel at home and know that we’re here to help them…
“Another part of my role is to co-facilitate peer support groups and coffee mornings where we talk about positive topics including hobbies, and I write and facilitate quizzes for the people we support. The atmosphere here is great!”
A big thank you to Arron, Karrol, Lynne, Paul and Glenice, and of course every other Change Grow Live Volunteer – all 1,400 of you!
Have their stories inspired you to give volunteering a go? Check out our volunteering opportunities today.
This blog was originally published by Change Grow Live. You can read the original post here.
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