Amby’s Story: Supporting our volunteers to give invaluable advice

I’ve worked as Volunteer Development Officer at Manchester Mind since September 2021. I manage the volunteers and their recruitment process, and make sure they know what they’re doing. I help them to get placements, and check in on them once a month or so to see how they’re getting on. I work on the Manchester Volunteer Advice Partnership (MVAP), which is made up of five voluntary organisations who provide advice in Manchester. We train volunteers, most of whom are not in work, to learn new career skills and get a really solid basis in how to become an advice worker.

“A lot of people who come to us are initially not very confident about interacting with members of the public, and lacking in assertiveness. We offer training in handling difficult situations and working with clients in emotional distress. I have seen volunteers who were nervous and uncomfortable at first get to the point where they’re actually excited and confident about working one on one with clients.”

During the nine-week training programme, people spend a lot of time together and often become friends, which is great for people have previously felt isolated. It gives participants a sense of belonging and pride. Volunteers can use the skills they develop both in the volunteering work and also in their personal life, by helping friends and family out with benefits applications. Some of our participants are immigrants themselves, so have had lived experience of going through the application processes that our volunteers assist with. We create a feeling of upskilling in the community, and a sense of routine and purpose through weekly commitment.

“After the first round of the latest training, we supplied six new volunteers to Cheetham Hill Advice Centre and Manchester Refugee Support Network, and two at Barnabus. Six of our trainees have since moved into employment, which is really great.”

I really enjoy my role working with volunteers. It gives me the opportunity to build relationships with people, and do work that helps others, seeing people grow and change through the volunteering opportunities. It is nice to feel like we are giving people the skills to support themselves so they don’t reach the point of crisis. We can fix and address issues and work alongside people in a productive way.

It’s about supporting people to empower themselves within the community, and giving people the skills they need to help one another.

Find out more about Manchester Volunteer Advice Partnership here.

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