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Did you know it’s Volunteer’s Week? Here’s why it’s important

On the 27th of May, In the spirit of Volunteer’s Week. I virtually sat down with Outward’s Sophie Munden, the volunteering and community engagement manager (Maternity Cover), as well as Teresa Meira, Outward’s community engagement volunteering and co-production officer. The interview was brief but very Informative, as the ladies shared some compelling insight into the experiences, values and, role of a volunteer. Sophie Munden who started at Outward in February of this year studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in applied Theatre, where she received her master’s degree and mentioned how using plays in connection to multiple community settings allowed her to engage and connect with people. Teresa Meira, who has been with outward for 2 years, previously worked as a special educational needs teaching assistant as well as a Support Worker for Outward where she empowered individuals they supported to achieve their outcomes also creating opportunities.

What does volunteer week mean to you?

Volunteers week is a week within the UK where volunteers are honored and thanked for the contribution that they make. Teresa noted that it is a celebration of every individual that takes their time, skills, knowledge and, good nature to make sure persons are having fun, socializing and, are not feeling isolated. They are deeply valued and deserve to be recognized for the huge difference they are making within the Outward community especially.

What is the importance of a Volunteer?

The ladies explained how invaluable and selfless the volunteers are, they are at the very core of Outward and the foundation it was built on. They continuously make a difference through reliability, friendship, encouragement, dedication, and uphold the values by engaging, enabling, and empowering every day. This in turn renews their significance daily.

Why do people want to get involved with volunteering?

There are multiple reasons as to why persons get involved with volunteering, some persons were support workers in the past and wanted to reuse their skills to contribute to individuals within the communities. Some students studying health and social care as well as psychology wanted to involve themselves to complete placements for their master’s degree. Finally, some persons wanted to offer their support to those who are struggling and feeling isolated throughout the peak of the Covid period.

How many volunteers are there and what are they currently doing?

Outward currently has around 25 Volunteers who engage in a variety of roles and activities. These roles and activities include Befrienders, Drama Course Assistants, Podcast Creators, Activity Assistants, Health and Wellbeing Resource Creators, Video Editors, and Graphic Designers. The diversity of the volunteers align with the persons they support, which creates an open opportunity for exchange and expressiveness.

How have the volunteers impacted the person’s outward supports?

It was stated that everyone has had an impact on the individuals they support in different ways, however, there was a story in particular that Teresa recalled, where a volunteer came to London just before Covid resulting in her being stuck in the country. The volunteer started to befriend persons Outward supports, she would go sightseeing to different places around London creating video sessions for persons who were stuck at home. This act of initiative and kindness made persons feel grateful being able to engage with the city from the comfort of their homes, they would feel good knowing she would go to random locations on each visit.

What are they doing for volunteer week?

According to the ladies, the volunteers are in for a surprise in the post as well as a huge thank you from Outwards CEO Peter Little.

Article by Pheonix Wilson