All week, alongside charitable organisations all over the nation who have been recognising Volunteers’ Week, we’ve been celebrating our volunteers who freely give their time. Without them, we couldn’t offer the high level of support required by people who have experienced domestic abuse. Today, we are sharing three volunteers’ stories.
Alena, Vicki and Karen
Alena volunteers with our Marketing and Social Media team. Vicki leads creative writing workshops in one of our refuges. Karen supports children and young people. We asked them each four questions about their experiences of volunteering. Here are their stories:
What motivated you to get involved with Leeway?
Alena: I first considered volunteering for Leeway in October 2016. Fresh out of university with a passion to work in charity sector and no previous experience in the field, I saw the vacancy and did not hesitate for a moment before applying.
Vicki: I studied Creative Writing at university so when I heard about an opportunity to lead workshops in the refuge I jumped at it. Creative writing can be therapeutic and often reveals emotions the women weren’t aware of or memories that they had forgotten.
Karen: My involvement with Leeway started because I wanted to be able to help others - to try to make a difference, after seeing and reading a leaflet in my doctor’s surgery asking for volunteers.
What do you do in your volunteer role?
Alena: If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you have probably seen posters and infographics which I helped create. I also monitor news and assist with event organisation. Once my shift starts, it is always very busy and I have a lot of tasks to manage!
Vicki: I use my creative writing skills to run workshops for the women in the refuge. I visit once a week for an hour and most sessions involve a series of writing prompts – such as starter sentence or ‘what happens next’ scenarios – or word games to get the ladies thinking creatively. There’s always opportunities to share writing at the end of each exercise.
Karen: My volunteer role is part of the Children and Young People’s Outreach Team (CAYPO). I work in the refuge helping with Kids Club for children aged 5+. I also volunteer on the schools outreach programme speaking to Year 6 pupils about healthy relationships.
How do you feel you make a difference?
Alena: I firmly believe that spreading awareness about domestic abuse is vitally important. I want as many people as possible to learn about Leeway and its wonderful services, so they know that they are not alone and help is available, should they need it. I’d like to think that there is a tiny drop of my own contribution in the big battle with ending domestic abuse.
Vicki: The workshops help the women have a space to explore an area of their mind which might often be suppressed by more practical concerns and many have said that it is the only time in their week when they pick up a pen and write. Even those ladies who don’t participate directly will often sit in the room to listen to the stories that the other women write, creating bonds with one another over funny anecdotes which might not otherwise have been shared. The workshops are fun and a break from everyday activities.
Karen: I feel I make a difference to the children and young people by helping them through tough times with fun and play; they get to see with us that life isn't all bad. I feel we give them a bit of respite from what they are going through. Seeing them laughing, playing and having fun is what it is all about. In the schools programme, it makes a difference giving the children the tools to seek help should they need it, and to recognise behaviours of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering for Leeway?
Alena: Leeway is a great place for volunteering! It gives me the chance to work for a great cause alongside a highly professional, encouraging and friendly team. I am sure it will do the same for you.
Vicki: Do it! There are loads of different ways to help out, so definitely ask about the opportunities available. Every shift is different but it's always really rewarding.
Karen: If you are thinking of volunteering for Leeway, I can tell you it can be a life changing experience. You can help those who are in need and in return you gain skills and experience. I have found it to be incredibly humbling, rewarding and an eye-opening experience. The team at Leeway have been extremely supportive so you're not on your own - there is a very experienced team around you.
We are always looking for volunteers to help us out. If you think you might be able to help people who have experienced domestic abuse by giving up some of your time, please get in touch. You can call us on 0300 561 0077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or see our current volunteer opportunities on Do-it.
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