Tempes Fugit and all that! By Louise Dunne, Volunteer Co-ordinator
May 21, 2012 at 2:30 PM
How time flies! I can’t believe that I’m already starting to put information together for my final three year report for my funders, The Tudor Trust. It really doesn’t seem any time at all that I started at Beat as Network Development Officer – charged with revitalising the network of self help and support groups and developing a self-sustaining network fit for the future.
A lot has happened and I believe I’ve moved the network forward and dragged it into the 21st Century! Redeveloping the model of engagement for the network, writing new training materials and delivering face to face training days have all contributed to the gradual expansion of the network. It has grown from the 54 existing groups I ‘inherited’ from the old Self Help Network back in 2009 to the current 109 groups. I am anticipating that we will reach 120 groups by early summer as there are a number of new groups currently in development.
There is still lots to do – I’ve just started a Quality Standard Assessment of the network, as, increasingly, it is vital that we can demonstrate not only numbers – attendance at groups has risen by over 82% since 2008 – but also the impact and outcomes of what we are doing.The big question is...does attending a group actually help? It is a contentious issue – and although there has been some research on the subject – opinion is divided. Some say that the ethos of ‘pure’ self help and support doesn’t actually enable people to move forward, whereas others firmly advocate the importance of being listened to, sharing experiences and gaining support from other people in a non-judgemental, confidential environment can be empowering and motivate people to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
Although not veering away from the traditional model of self help and support within groups, we are working to develop other models of groups to respond to the public health agenda and increasing work with commissioned services. Beat are hoping to further develop our work with people who have overeating issues. We’ve always supported anyone with any type of eating disorder or concerns around their eating – but we are being approached more by people worried about their overeating habits. I’ve also started work on recruiting new group facilitators to run online groups. These will be run like an online Live Chat, with two group facilitators and a moderator to ensure all conversations are safe.
You might have noticed I’ve got a new job title since my last Blog piece. I’m now Volunteering Co-ordinator for Beat, which means I will be managing all aspects of volunteering across the organisation; ensuring standards are high, managing the integrity of the services our volunteers deliver and supporting the hard-working Beat Project Officers in their work with volunteers. It’s a big challenge but very exciting and I feel I will be able to ‘champion’ our volunteers and the work they do on our behalf.
You might be picking up here that I am passionate about volunteering and working with volunteers which comes from knowing what benefits volunteering can bring into your life! This is not just from a professional stance – I’ve volunteered for over 11 years and know that I have gained so much more than I have put in. Finding out about myself has led to personal growth, learning new skills and meeting people from all walks of life I never would have encountered has given me so much and has shaped the person I am today.
This leads nicely into looking a little bit ahead – Volunteers’ Week. This is held every year in the first week of June – bit of a difficult one this year as it collides with the Jubilee celebrations and Bank Holidays. We will be planning activities after the week itself – but keep an eye on the Beat website as we will have lots of interesting features about volunteers and volunteering on there!
Back to the beginning…and time really does fly with so much to do, but as Plautus, the ancient Roman dramatist said......... “Life is variable”.....and long may it be so!
Please add a comment