Our Volunteer Visitors form an indispensable part of Support Network's service to those in need. By making home visits and assessing new applications, they provide the essential face-to-face contact between the beneficiaries, Trustees and Support Network’s office staff.
What do Volunteer Visitors do?
Volunteer Visitors call on new applicants to identify their problems, gather financial and other information and prepare a report for the Trustees with recommendations for the most appropriate assistance.
Volunteer Visitors also keep in touch with existing beneficiaries in their area to see if circumstances have changed and to make sure that Support Network is doing all it can to help. At least once a year visitors are asked to call and see existing beneficiaries and write an update report, which will be used by the Trustees at the annual review.
Volunteer Visitors are also the main resource in identifying eligible people in need and ways in which Support Network can help.
Necessary travelling expenses will be paid, both for visiting beneficiaries and for attending meetings and training seminars at our offices in Birdcage Walk, London or other locations.
Do I need any special skills?
Sometimes applicants and beneficiaries may be vulnerable following the onset of their difficulties and may need encouragement to give details of their situation. By the very nature of the job, visitors will be party to a lot of sensitive personal information, so a number of essential skills and qualities are required:
- The ability to relate to people in a friendly and informal way
- The ability to question sympathetically, listen to the answers and report objectively
- The capacity to treat sensitive personal information as confidential, respecting the trust shown by applicants with regard to their personal details
While previous experience is valuable, it is not essential. Visitors are given induction training and a Visitors Handbook which offers practical guidance on what is expected. In addition, the Support & Casework Officer or an experienced visitor will accompany them on their first few visits. In case of any difficulty, we are available to give advice and support by phone.
How much time do I need to commit?
Being a volunteer visitor doesn’t demand a huge time commitment. Quite often, a visitor will not be asked to visit more than two or three people in a year.
Each visit will not take more than an hour or two at the most, but this means about four or five hours need to be set aside for travelling and preparing a brief report. Visitors may decide to visit more frequently than once a year, but this is optional.
What are the rewards?
Many people find that volunteering as a visitor is a good way to help fellow members less fortunate than themselves, putting something back into a profession that has given them successful careers in mechanical engineering. Although the circumstances of some of those helped can be sad, it’s rewarding to be part of Support Network’s team, making a real difference in people’s lives.
How do I go about volunteering?
- First of all, please Contact us to let us know that you are interested in volunteering, and we’ll arrange a time to discuss what’s involved.
- Thereafter we’ll send you an Application Form to return so that you can tell us more about your skills and previous experience.
- You will then be contacted to talk things over further.
- We currently have a specific need for volunteers near to Southampton and Eastleigh, plus in Cornwall, Devon, Surrey and Northern Ireland, but welcome all applications at any time.
- The next stage will be to shadow one of our existing volunteers on a visit, and to then come along to one of the regular Grants Committee meetings, to see how grant decisions are made, and to also meet the Chair and some of the other Trustees (most of whom are Volunteer Visitors themselves) and the staff team.
- If you are accepted as a Volunteer Visitor, we ask that you attend Update Training Day events, ideally at a venue close to you, and/or other related volunteer development events. These are a good opportunity to spend time with Support Network's staff and other volunteers to discuss matters of common interest and to share experiences.
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