Earlier this year Community Action Isle of Wight – the support body for voluntary and community sector organisations on the Island – launched a new project to help Islanders take on an active role in their community as a volunteer.
Helping others take control
The programme is being backed by JobCentre Plus and over the course of 12 months aims to support 36 Islanders who are claiming out of work benefits.
By offering a personalised approach, mentors help to build participants’ confidence and assist them to find the right volunteer role, which is rewarding in itself, but also a step closer to employment.
Making a difference
Amy Milford-Wood, who is the project lead on the Isle of Wight, said,
“This is an amazing opportunity for everyone involved. Participants get tailored support to achieve their goals, volunteer placements get the benefit of a new group of people’s skills and experiences, and mentors get the satisfaction that comes from really making a difference in people’s lives.”
Five months on from the start of the project and Amy tells OnTheWight they’ve been able to help 14 Islanders into volunteering roles, with placements ranging from charity shops, to Aspire, to Shanklin library and the Isle of Wight Reptilarium.
They’re also supporting a further nine Islanders to find placements and to improve their confidence in preparation for volunteering.
Could you be a mentor?
Over the coming months Community Action will be taking on around 15 more people and are seeking patient, empathetic and motivational Islanders who can act as mentors to help give the participants the really personalised service they need.
You’ll be expected to provide gentle encouragement, motivation and support needed to empower those who have often faced long-term sickness or other barriers to employment and voluntary work.
If you’re the sort of person who can quickly establish a rapport with people and inspire them to make progress, you’re just who Amy is looking for.
“Our volunteers help others volunteer”
Amy went on to say,
“Our volunteers help others volunteer – they get the satisfaction not only of their own mentoring role, but indirectly too, knowing that the person they support goes on to support charities or other worthwhile causes.
“We can create a wonderful chain effect!”
A really positive impact
Jack is one of those taking part in the scheme. He said,
“The Supported Volunteering Project has helped me to regain my self-confidence, redevelop my social skills and brave the public transport system alone. It has also allowed me to mix with some like-minded people.
“Overall, I feel healthier, more confident and more socially active than I did say nine months ago. I would highly recommend this project to other people, and volunteering in general, simply because of that joy you receive in knowing that you are helping to enriching another person’s life.
“To see the change and to feel the change after months of uncertainty is just incredible.”
Do you have what it takes to become a mentor and help play a positive part in someone’s life here on the Isle of Wight?
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor should contact Amy at Community Action Isle of Wight by email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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