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What volunteering opportunities are available?

Currently, our volunteers work mainly in direct contact with residents in care homes. Some are mainly “befrienders” who visit regularly to spend time with residents who may appreciate contact and conversation with people from outside the home. As well as getting to know the individual residents, they sometimes also take part in activities and games or run errands for residents who don’t often have other visitors (as quite a few do not).

These volunteers are greatly appreciated both by residents and staff and are often able to help residents communicate their wishes concerns that they may be reluctant to raise with staff.

Other volunteers take a wider role as full members of the care home team. These are the Community Visitors. They are generally able to commit more time to the role and become a routine presence within the home. They are available for residents according to need at the time (for example, when they are newly admitted to the home) and they also work with the managers, staff and residents’ families – the whole care home community, in fact – as “critical friends” of the home as a whole. Read more about the Community Visitors project.

As our new project FaNs (Community Friends and Neighbours) gets underway, a huge range of new volunteering opportunities will open up. You don’t need to be a member of the Community Association to be a FaN – you can be a member of any organisation or group, or none at all. The main thing is that you share the common aim that unites the FaNs – to help make sure that people who live in care homes are able to enjoy as good a quality of life as possible, according to their individual needs and preferences. The range of roles that FaNs can play is vast, so what would you like to contribute?

What qualifications do I need?

The main qualification for volunteering is a kind heart, a wish to make apositive contribution and the ability to make some time available, however much or little that may be, for your voluntary activities. We will discuss with you the opportunities that might suit you best, taking into account your interests and concerns and the time you have available. If you have special skills or relevant experience that you are willing to bring to your volunteering, these will be very welcome.

Are there any age limits?

No. Volunteers range in age from primary school children to people long retired. Indeed, in some homes, the residents themselves are the volunteers, helping to raise money for charities, helping scouts gain their badges etc.

I have no experience with social care, does that matter?

No. We are looking for good friends and neighbours to care home residents, not care professionals. We will give you training and support as necessary. That said, however, if you do have relevant professional skills we will be happy to help you make use of them.

Is there a selection process?

Yes. Different organisations have different approaches, but you will be asked to meet the volunteer co-ordinator to talk about your plans and what you might like to do. In the MHLECA we try to find a suitable volunteering role for anybody who is genuinely motivated to volunteer. Occasionally, however, we have to tell people that we don’t think our volunteer activities are right for them. We will always discuss the reasons for this.

Naturally, the care home managers have a right to decide who comes to the home as a volunteer, so they, too, will have their say in the matter. Of course, as a volunteer, the choice about what you want to do and where you want to do it is always up to you.

Will I need a police check?

Care home residents are regarded as “vulnerable adults” so many volunteers who come into frequent contact with them will need a police check, which we can arrange. This is only done with the consent of the person involved and the results are kept strictly confidential. By no means all volunteers will need to have a police check, however. We can advise on this.

Will I have to make a specific time commitment?

We do need volunteers to be reliable, so we always look for people who are conscientious about the commitments they make. However, those commitments are usually flexible (except when specific events are scheduled) to fit in with the rest of life and are always agreed according to what the volunteer is able to offer. A little or a lot, regular or occasional – whatever time you can contribute, we will work with you to find a suitable role. We don’t take our volunteers for granted.

What kind of training and support is available?

All volunteers working with the Community Association are given an induction that includes an introduction to the Association, to the principles of My Home Life movement and to their particular role. They are also asked to commit to observing our policies and Code of Practice for Volunteers. After that, we have a wide range of training opportunities that volunteers can access, depending on their particular role and interests. All volunteers receive regular support from the Development Officer and other members of the MHLECA Board.

What about expenses and subsistence?

You have the right to be reimbursed promptly for all authorised out of pocket expenses. We do not normally make subsistence payments, but if you’re volunteering in a care home you will be offered refreshments as appropriate to the time of day.

Are volunteers insured?

Yes. All of our regular volunteers are insured, as long as they abide by our policies and Code of Practice. Volunteers working directly with care homes are covered by their insurance where necessary.