To assist individuals on their journey to social inclusion and to help empower them to live independently, Apax encourages residents to seek out volunteering roles in which they can learn and develop valuable new skills. Many of these skills are transferable between the home and workplace. Not only does this improve future employability for our residents, but it also increases their confidence levels and self-esteem when it comes to living independently. Here is a snapshot of what has been happening recently:
For the past nine months, DO has been a volunteer at Victim Support, the oldest and largest victims’ organisation in the world. Set up 40 years ago, the charity provides valuable assistance and support to victims and witnesses of crime across England and Wales.
DO’s involvement as a volunteer is twofold: one aspect of her role is in an advisory capacity, whereby she has the opportunity to support victims of crime through listening to individuals’ concerns and providing the reassurance and help they may need to overcome their experiences. The other aspect of her role involves directing her residents to external agencies who are well placed to provide any necessary further support and assistance. DO enjoys being able to communicate and work in partnership with these outside agencies, particularly when they evidently benefit her residents. She revels in seeing her residents progress, recover and overcome their difficulties.
DO has learned and developed a variety of new skills since becoming a volunteer and feels that the training she has received in Mental Health and Domestic Violence has nurtured a strong interest in Advisory and Supported Services. As a result of her volunteer work, DO considers that this is an area in which she could develop a fruitful and rewarding future career.
British Heart Foundation
LE volunteers twice a week at the British Heart Foundation, which is the UK’s number one heart charity. It is the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research and plays an integral role in discovering vital treatments which are helping to change the face of the UK’s fight against heart disease.
LE thoroughly enjoys her voluntary role at the local shop, particularly because she has the opportunity to acquire new skills, obtain valuable work experience and work as part of a dedicated team. At present, she prepares new and donated items ready to be sold then places the merchandise strategically around the store, so as to maximise sales. Not only has this opportunity allowed LE to develop key skills such as organisation, communication and social skills, but she has also benefitted from meeting people, making new friends, having fun and increasing her own confidence and self-esteem. Her motivation for doing this is that she really enjoys helping people and charities, and she gains a sense of pride knowing that her contribution makes a difference to those who rely on the research and funding of the British Heart Foundation.
South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Foundation
SC has been volunteering with South London and Maudsley (SLAM) for just over a month as a Peer Support Volunteer. SLAM provides NHS care and treatment for people with mental health problems and provides substance misuse services for people with drug and alcohol addictions. As well as serving the communities of South London, it also provides specialist services for people across the UK and beyond.
SC volunteers for two hours each week, supporting an individual of a similar age who has experienced mental health related illness. Whilst this individual is recovering well and is about to be discharged from hospital, SC will spend approximately six months with them, helping to reduce any feelings of anxiety and isolation, and supporting the individual with relapse prevention.
The support on offer may vary from providing friendship and helping to improve morale and wellbeing, to providing more practical support with general day to day activities, like shopping and accompanying the individual to appointments. What SC really enjoys about the role is that formal training is provided, so as a volunteer, she feels like she is part of the organisation, playing an active role in improving people’s lives. The role is supervised and the supervisors help SC to develop and quantify her employability skills. SC hopes to use this experience to develop a career as a social worker in the near future.
One resident volunteers with three charities
MT is one of Apax’s most active residents who volunteers with three very worthwhile charities. He kindly dedicates a large amount of his time to helping others, often drawing upon his own diverse experiences to empathise with people’s individual situations. Here’s what he gets up to:
The Diocese of Southwark
MT has been volunteering with St Georges Christ Church for two months now. On two afternoons each month, he helps with the food preparation and the serving of food and refreshments at congregation gatherings. In his role at St Georges, MT helps with the washing up and is actively involved with the maintenance and upkeep of the church. He finds that he enjoys being busy and particularly likes the feeling of being useful. MT said, “I feel good that I contribute to the church community and can make a difference”.
Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health (Lewisham)
MT also regularly volunteers at the Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health, which runs a weekly drop-in session for people with mental illness on Wednesday evenings. This is a project run by dedicated volunteers, of whom MT is one of them. He has been in this role for 14 months and has been a longstanding member of the Association since 1997. MT helps to set up and clear away the facilities for each session. He values the opportunity to talk to members and shares that it feels good to be able to give something back to the community.
Walking for Health
MT has been volunteering at Walking for Health for the past three years, whereby every Thursday morning he assists the staff in planning walks for health and happiness. A key part of this role is to be vigilant, ensuring that everybody remains safe for the duration of the walk. There is an emphasis on spotting potential hazards and making sure that nobody gets lost along the way. MT states, “I really enjoy walking as I like the physical activity and find it is therapeutic for me”.