Volunteers’ Week 2021: recognising the vital role of volunteers

Volunteering is the life’s blood of the non-profit sector and it is through the tireless efforts of those giving up their time that enables many organisations to carry out their vital work. Volunteers’ Week is about recognising this and we want to thank all those who volunteer for Paul’s Place.

We spoke to Volunteer Sue to share her experiences

When lockdown began, volunteers like Sue Weaver adapted to the times. Sue, a Paul’s Place volunteer for 11 years now is helping the charity in any way she can.

During lockdown, she was helping with our Paul’s Place at Home service by becoming a telephone befriender and hosting some of our Zoom activities, such as Desert Island Discs. When things are good, she can be seen at our day facility, interacting with the people we support. She has loved supporting us over the years, telling us;

“I have given the members (those supported by the charity) a special gift of my time, my talents and my skills. In return, I have gained friendships and much satisfaction in helping this charity. I have shared in their laughter and their tears during our incredible journey together. From the weekly onsite small group activities, supporting individuals to achieve their goals, to helping during short breaks and holidays, every moment spent together is creating special memories for us all.”

Sue has been eager to get back to face to face contact with individuals and has now returned to the day facility to help the support worker team during activities. “They enrich my life.”

So how did Sue find out about us?

“I started as a volunteer 11 years ago. I’d heard about Paul’s Place two years before my retirement.”

“As deputy head of St Michaels Primary School, I met Kath Aldom (the founder of Paul’s Place) at a cheque presentation. Following the Winterbourne May Day Carnival. During the next 2 years, 4 people supported by Paul’s Place would visit the school each Friday and come into my classroom. They shared their disabilities and personal skills with the children. This was such a valuable life-skills building experience for us all. So, volunteering became a natural progression for me.”

“I enabled the Boccia team to attend year 6 experience days, which ran for 12 days over a period of 3 years at the Bristol Cathedral. The Boccia Team shared their skills with 200 children each day!”

“This helped those supported by Paul’s Place to gain confidence in presentation skills. Coaching these young people to play Boccia and Curling up and down the Cathedral aisles helped everyone have fun while learning new skills!”

Thank you for everything you do for us Sue. Your passion is so valued and together we are helping disabled adults and their carers live life to the full.

We also spoke to Rosie, a Paul’s Place Volunteer for 14 years!

Rosie lives in the local area and joined the volunteer team 14 years ago. She has loved meeting and working with the people we support, as well as being part of the professional side of our organisation. As a volunteer you not only gain valuable experience with the people we support but you also see behind the scenes of a professional organisation.

What I enjoyed the most about volunteering was meeting and working with the members (the people we support) and also being part of a professional organisation.

We asked her if she experienced any challenges.

Her challenges included getting to know people on an individual basis in order to understand how to best support them.

The ability to tailor your support and work with lots of different abilities is just one of the many skills you will learn as a volunteer at Paul’s Place. Our support team are with you every step of the way and we make sure to provide you with the appropriate training.

Another thing Rosie learned during her time with us is that “it has made me much more aware of the needs and sensitivities of others.”

Giving a little of your time to others and being given the opportunity to learn so much FROM THEM. Also, being encouraged to use my skills to help support the wonderful people supported by Paul’s Place.

Thank you Rosie for being with us for so long. You have made a big difference to our charity and most importantly, helped us enhance the lives of disabled adults and their carers. It’s kind and giving individuals like you, that really make the difference to a small charity like us.

At Paul’s Place, our values are lived out in every single person who joins our team. That includes our volunteers too. Find out more about our values, here

We’re now recruiting volunteers! Find out more about our current roles here.