Our Volunteer Co-ordinator June Jones celebrates our amazing volunteers. Here she talks about how much they mean to us – and how much being part of the Julia’s House team can mean to them…
My role involves recruiting and organising all our volunteers right across the charity and now right across two counties.
We are lucky to have built up a fantastic team of more than 400 people who donate their time – the need to help is always there. Because our charity is almost completely community funded, their support is really important as it saves us on average around half a million pounds a year.
At Julia’s House, volunteers are welcomed into our ‘family’ with open arms and are given continuous support by their team and the other volunteers. We really want every volunteer to feel special and a valued part of our team.
We like to keep them in touch with everything we do and share stories and news about the families they are helping to support to be able to see first-hand the difference their time is making to local mums, dads and children.
We have a whole raft of roles available from days out supporting siblings, sorting donations, manning a stall, helping out in our shops and in our fundraising office.
Volunteering isn’t just an opportunity to give something back to the local community, it’s also a chance for people to share or broaden their existing skills or try something new.
Some of our volunteers start off shy, but their confidence and skills improve massively over time, which is really lovely to see. It’s also a great way for people to make new friends.
I love what I do and I meet some really interesting and fantastic people with different life stories. Volunteering can be very therapeutic – people often say they get as much out of it as the charity does. It’s very humbling to witness a volunteer who has been able to grow and, in some instances, improve their own lives whilst giving time to improve the lives of others.
One of our most inspirational volunteer stories involves a van driving team who deliver stock to all our shops from our Creekmoor warehouse.
Ten years ago a young man called Rene was involved in a motorbike accident which left him with brain injuries and needing full-time care.
Ex-firefighter Dennis, became Rene’s carer and started looking at all the different ways he could improve life for Rene. Despite his injuries, Dennis wanted Rene to have the chance to broaden his outlook and have a sense of purpose. It was all too easy for Rene to end up being housebound and falling out of society.
He wrote to me to explaining the situation and asking for if perhaps Rene could get involved with Julia’s House. We all thought it was a brilliant idea - this is what volunteering should be about, a mutually beneficial and enriching experience.
For the past two years, Rene and Dennis, along with fellow van driver Simon, have spent every Friday making their delivery runs – including popping into the fundraising office so see us all. They are such a great team together – friendly, helpful and cheerful.
Dennis told me that Rene absolutely loves volunteering, enjoying being out on the road and getting stuck in.
It's very clear to everyone who has met Rene that his favourite thing about volunteering for Julia’s House is helping others, giving people a hand and knowing he is helping children in our care.
The guys love working together as a three, but also enjoy having support from the whole Julia’s House team and the public. Dennis told me: “Everyone here is great. We love meeting new people and getting to know the community. Volunteering has allowed us to make a lot of new friends.
“It has given Rene a routine and a structure to his week – and enabled him to get outdoors, which he loves.
“We always strive to do the job well and we are proud to be public faces of Julia’s House. We play a small part in a valued and respected organisation and it’s rewarding to know that our work goes a very long way.”
Volunteering has been a wonderful outlet for Rene to socialise and gain a sense of purpose, and we are so grateful for all the time and support that he, Dennis and Simon have given us. A huge thank you to them and all our volunteers, past and present for all their amazing work and dedication.
We hope that their story inspires others to volunteer. Anybody and everybody can give it a go. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call on 01202 644220, look at the volunteer jobs on our website or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.