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Gabie Dass, placement student with VAL's Prisoners and Ex Offenders Volunteering Project blogs about what she's learned from volunteering?
I recently started my placement here at Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL), and I can honestly say it is one of the best placements I have ever had. Everybody here is so friendly and they support each other in such a great way. I think that’s important when working within an organisation. Sometimes when the going gets tough, it’s great to know that you have such a fantastic team behind you to support you and who are there to help with any difficulties which may arise, and that’s the kind of great support they have here!
Finding out how third sector organisations work?
It’s great as a placement student to see how a third sector organisation works. What I have noticed whilst being here at VAL is that they work very closely with people to ensure that they are giving the best service they can, they understand the needs of the service users and what is expected of them, they have the ability to deliver outcomes, they all work very hard to work and meet their targets which they have set and they have been very successful whilst doing so! They have the innovation in developing solutions and the performance in delivering these services is great! They take into account what people have suggested to them in order for them to better themselves and they've found ways to put those ideas into practice.
The Prisoner and Ex Offenders Volunteering Project's basic aim is to provide training, opportunities and advice to prisoners who are considering volunteering when they are released. The benefits that prisoners get from this is that they are able to gain more skills, knowledge, they are keeping busy in their free time, they are building and adding to their CV. They are able to get new qualifications and it’s another way of turning their life around for the better. The Prisoner and Ex-Offenders Volunteering Project team aim to empower the prisoners allowing them to have a voice. For example PID Workers in prison would report back with any issues they are not happy with or if they have any ideas or feedback which would help them in the process of volunteering.
The skills I've learned
Working with the Prisoner and Ex Offender Volunteering Project has been such an educational time for me, often without me even realising! Spending time with the team and attending meetings has taught me a lot of skills, many of which I can take with me when my placement time here has finished. I think having a placement student work with you can be educational for not only the student but for the people they are working with. I have learnt a lot from working within a team and they have had the chance to work on their supervisory and management skills whilst I’ve been here.
Voluntary Action Leeds provides support, services and specialist advice to third sector organisations across Leeds. Their vision is to allow all third sector organisations on Leeds have the right skills, resources, support and voice to achieve their full potential. They aim to make a social change within the community to make it a better and a more positive place to live in. Voluntary Action Leeds believes that every person should have an equal opportunity, and to make sure that people are making good use of their skills and knowledge allowing them to start a brighter future.
None of this would be as successful without these amazing organisations such as DISC, RSPCA, St George’s Crypt and many more which are in partnership with VAL. They show commitment by supporting VAL and by taking ex-offenders and prisoners and allowing them to volunteer with them.