Volunteering, Day One

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I don’t think I have discussed my voluntary work on this blog before but I have been volunteering for around 18 months now and have loved every minute of it. I actually volunteer for 2 different organisations both because I am passionate about them and also to gain valuable experience to go alongside my degree. One of the organisations I volunteer for I act as a mentor for male offenders, who have served a sentence of 12 months or less, upon release from HMP Durham. I really love this work as it is so rewarding, many of the clients I have worked alongside have had drug or alcohol issues and I have always been very interested in this area, having completed a diploma in substance abuse counselling, and so I wanted to replace my other voluntary role with some direct substance misuse experience which will also aid me with my work with offenders. I also felt that after 18 months I needed a new challenge and so at the beginning of this year I began applying for volunteer roles.
I immediately found that all of the larger organisations had very long volunteer waiting lists so prepared myself for a long wait! I received a phone call at the beginning of May from one of the places I had applied for, which is a North East wide substance misuse organisation, inviting me for an interview on June 27th 2013.
That was last week and they were interviewing over 2 days so I expected to find out sometime this week. However when I was leaving my interview I was told that they would be more than happy for me to volunteer for their organisation and I had my first day yesterday, Monday 1st July!
For the next 4 weeks I will attend one support session a week and I will then begin the relevant training (I haven’t met anyone else who loves training course as much as me!) The organisation can also offer a huge amount of on-going accredited training which I will definitely be taking advantage of!

What it Entails
As I mentioned I attend one of the support groups which involves chatting to a group of clients about the recovery process and at what stage they are at along with helping out with any practical support – filling out forms, sourcing contact details etc. and also managing the group – monitoring behaviour etc. Once I have done the core training they offer volunteers the chance to progress in the particular area they are interested so for me this will be the 1-2-1 counselling sessions which are available to certain clients.

My Thoughts
Although I have only attended one support session I thoroughly enjoyed it and really feel as though I will be able to progress and not only give a lot to the role but also gain some amazing opportunities and experience. Out of the three organisations I have been involved with in a voluntary capacity this organisation seems to be the most structured, offer the most on-going support and provide a vast array of training courses. I will most definitely post regular updates about my new voluntary role!!
Sophie

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