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Voluntary Action Leeds' Volunteer Coordinator answers our questions.
How long have you worked at VAL?
I’ve been working at VAL for over 5 years now. I come from a youth and community work background which helps me to understand the needs of communities in the city.
Explain what you do in a sentence
I coordinate all things volunteer related including Volunteer Centre Leeds, which matches volunteers with opportunities across the city, and our Volunteer Managers Network, which now has over 700 members who come together to develop a standard of excellence in volunteering across Leeds.
What’s a typical day in the office like?
It can vary quite a lot, from checking in with the team and our volunteers, to attending meetings with colleagues from other charities looking to recruit, organising events and sometimes being in the regional prisons as part of our Giving Time project.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really believe in volunteering as a way to helping people with their wellbeing or career progression, and helping organisations to recruit a strong volunteer base that means they can really help the communities they serve. My career began when I volunteered in a youth centre in Manchester and was the turning point in my life.
What are the challenges in delivering volunteering services?
The biggest challenge at the moment is delivering Volunteer Centre services in regional prisons – getting people with criminal convictions into volunteer opportunities. It can take a long time for the team to get established in such an environment and it’s a totally different culture to the voluntary sector.
Why should people consider volunteering?
People should consider volunteering if they feel isolated, need a bit of purpose or are looking for new career direction. Volunteering has so many benefits to people’s confidence, health and wellbeing and creates a sense of community. Most importantly it’s great fun.
What’s the biggest challenge when recruiting volunteers?
Volunteer managers often work part time so it can be difficult to offer the level of support that they’d like. Thankfully the Volunteer Managers Network is able to support organisations by bringing people together to share resources and good practice.
What’s been your career highlight?
The highlight of my career was taking a small group of volunteers to Pakistan for a week. They met with other volunteers to share approaches to youth action. It was an amazing experience and such a wonderful opportunity to visit Pakistan.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m either being a social butterfly or sleeping – I love both equally! There’s nothing better than hanging out with the people I love, I’m lucky to have lots of great friends.
What’s your best piece of advice for third sector organisations and small groups?
Don’t underestimate the difference you make to people’s lives and celebrate your achievements when you can!