What do you do within your volunteering role/roles?
I provide support to a child with additional needs and his family. I visit them once a week and either stay at home and do activities like art and crafts, stories, playing games, or sometimes we go out to the park or other places locally. This enables his mum and sibling to have a break.
What motivated you to volunteer?
I felt that I had lots of experience through being a parent. My children are all adults now and I was missing the contact of younger children. I wanted to put my skills and knowledge to good use while helping others.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
It’s very rewarding! I enjoy building a relationship with the children and families, who eventually become friends. I take great pleasure from watching the children grow and develop, make new friends and enjoy different experiences. I love the fact that I am able to reassure and help the families I work with, and pass on my experience and knowledge which may be able to help them.
What difference do you feel volunteers make to the community? Why are they important?
Volunteering is important. It makes a difference to people’s lives knowing that help is out there for them. It also helps the volunteer engage in their local community and get out and meet people.
How helpful is the organisation in supporting you in your volunteer role?
I get lots of help. I have a dedicated worker who provides me with supervision and help. I am given all the information I need about the children and they help to set up the introductions and meetings. I know who to contact should I need anything.
Felicity tells us more about volunteering with the scheme and impact the volunteers have.
Why does your organisation use volunteers? What couldn’t you do without your volunteers?
Our organisation uses volunteers to support children and young people who have a disability to access activities, develop relationships and assist them in trying new experiences.
Volunteers give an opportunity for families of children with disabilities to have some time to recharge their batteries or spend with their other children.
Volunteers enhance the life of a child by giving them a chance to meet people outside their family and develop new skills. Our volunteer carers find the time they give very rewarding and fulfilling, knowing they're making a genuine difference in the lives of a family.
Without volunteers, our organisation could not offer the number or range of placements and activities to children and young people who have disabilities.
What motivated your volunteers to support your organisation?
Our volunteers are often motivated by a desire to help in their local community, but many of them are also aware of the additional needs of disabled children and are keen to offer support to them and their families.
Many of our volunteers continue within our organisation over considerable periods of time as they find their lives and the lives of their family are enriched by the relationships they build with the children and their families.
Volunteers may come forward as a family, recognising that they all have something to both offer and gain by becoming a shared care family.
What do you offer those wanting to volunteer?
Volunteers are given a generous reimbursement of expenses to ensure they can offer a range of fun activities to a young person without any financial cost to themselves
Volunteers are offered regular face to face and on-line training courses –All volunteers attend a preparation course (1 day) to help them decide if shared care is the right volunteering opportunity for them. All volunteers approved as shared carers are then given the opportunity to undertake further training.
All volunteers receive regular supervision, to check on the welfare of the volunteer and the young person in placement. The volunteer is offered support and guidance in respect of any questions or concerns and feedback is recorded in respect of the activities undertaken and the young person’s progress.
What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering for your organisation?
We need volunteers who enjoy spending time with children and young people and have a positive ‘can do attitude’.
Applications would be welcomed from individuals, couples or families – No previous experience or qualifications are necessary, but would of course be welcomed.
The volunteers or volunteer families provide placements in their own home, the child’s home or in the community. All volunteers are assessed for suitability with DBS and other checks completed.
Community based volunteers are assessed as individuals only, however, if volunteers wish to provide placements in their own homes, then all adult members of the household will be assessed and children of the household will also be interviewed to gain their views.
Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they want. This could be a few hours after school or a regular weekend stay but it helps if the time is regular and consistent to build a positive relationship with the child or young person.
Interested to know more call the fostering recruitment team on 0800 917 0925 – and ask about becoming a Shared Care Volunteer, or they could visit hertfordshire.gov.uk/sharedcare for more information.