Volunteer Buddy ProjectBy Louise Jones | June 11th, 2010 | Category: CURRENT & PAST SUPPORTED VOLUNTEERING PROJECTS, MENTAL HEALTH, RECENT POSTS | No Comments »
At Volunteer Centre Slough we have recently developed a project to support those with mental health issues into volunteering. Over recent years we have worked with local support agencies and the community mental health team with the view to finding sustainable volunteering roles for their clients. We found that many people were open to the idea of volunteering but were unable to take the first step.
As a result of a collaboration with our borough council and funding to develop a similar project we developed the idea of recruiting and training volunteer buddies to support others into volunteering roles. Buddies were chosen for their ability to communicate well and to have a willingness to help others progress. Their main role was to regularly meet up with their client when matched and to motivate their client, at the clients pace in order to achieve a volunteering role. We have had many wonderful successes: One client said that ‘my head became clear’ after a meeting with his buddy, another client said her buddy had become a ’mate who gave me encouragement when I needed it’.
Our buddies have learned patience over the course of the project with one buddy saying that she quickly realised that the pace of progress would not be what she expected however the benefits of regularly meeting up has proved invaluable. We have worked with health professionals and have taken their lead on when a buddy is suitable for a client. We originally set a limit of three months for each relationship and in some cases only a few weeks were required to settle a client into a volunteering role.
As expected, not all relationships worked out for a variety of reasons, but we have leaned a lot along the way and are rolling out the scheme to also support clients with learning disabilities.