AS part of National Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), a North-east charity is hoping to inspire more people to lend a hand by highlighting the benefits to both professional and personal growth that volunteering can bring.
Home-Start Aberdeen – which has been short-listed as a finalist in the Elevator Awards 2015, which are organised by Elevator, along with headline sponsors, RBS – Ahead For Business – has been working with communities in the city for almost 28 years and provides vulnerable families with practical and emotional support in their own homes.
That support, which can be a lifeline for some families who are dealing with a range of issues including isolation, ill health, disability, depression, domestic violence and addiction, is provided in main by Home-Start’s 97 trained home visiting volunteers, many of whom are parents themselves, with supervision from a small team of co-ordinators.
Without the charity’s dedicated volunteers, the service would simply cease to exist, so their contribution is immeasurable.
However, Georgette Cobban of Home-Start Aberdeen, is keen to point out the benefits that volunteers themselves can expect to gain.
She said: “Volunteers are at the heart of what our service provides and National Volunteers’ Week provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate all of our volunteers, and thank them for their time. What they give to some families in our area cannot be valued in monetary terms.
“But what I would like to do is take the opportunity to point out the range of skills set that can be gained from actively volunteering for every individual.
“Better listening, communication, team building and organisation skills are just some areas that an individual can expect to develop in.”
Georgette added: ”Professionally, individuals can expect to grow, with the skills developed from training very often being skills employers are actively seeking out.
“We would encourage anyone that is looking to grow as an individual and has some free time to give, to get in touch. The benefits on both sides can be life-changing.”
Volunteers attend a preparation course, usually one session per week for eight weeks, and, on successful completion are assigned a coordinator with whom they meet on a six-weekly basis for support and supervision.
Home-start places great importance on the quality of its training programmes; and staff and volunteers come together for ongoing training a minimum of three times per year. There is also an annual appraisal process that involves all staff and volunteers.
The charity is always looking to the future and embraces new and dynamic ways of approaching volunteering, and is therefore participating in a pilot of Home-Start UK’s new Volunteer Impact System (VIMS).
This new system is designed to ensure the best possible experience for volunteers, focusing on the development of their skills and confidence.
Home-start has been short-listed as finalists in the Enterprising Communities Award category in the Elevator 2015 awards, and without the volunteers that help make up the service, it wouldn’t be able to continue.
Georgette added: “We are delighted to be short-listed in this category, as benefiting the community through engagement and support is at the heart of what Home-Start is about.
“We expect demand for our services to only keep growing. Our current waiting list holds over 25 families and the complexity of referrals received is growing.
“So we really hope that individuals reading this might be inspired to find out more about what we do, and how they can benefit too from being involved in volunteering.”
Issued by Frasermedia Ltd on behalf of Tulloch Homes.
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