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As part of Volunteers' Week we are showcasing some of our volunteers amazing achievements, with a different volunteer each day on our blog. This year we are profiling volunteers who represent some of the diverse volunteering roles we have within The Children’s Society.
Mary Walsh, a supporter in the volunteering and diversity team, has answered a few questions about her experience of volunteering with us.
Q: What is your volunteer role with us?
A: I am a diversity and inclusion specialist and have worked in two departments within The Children’s Society, building an inclusive environment and working on elements of the organisation's transformation project.
How long have you been volunteering with us?
Why did you choose to volunteer with us?
I applied for a volunteer role with the transformation team that was advertised on your website.
My last paid role was made redundant and I have not been successful in finding paid employment since then. I felt I was losing confidence in myself and started volunteering in order to broaden my knowledge of the charitable sector, to keep my skills up to date and to contribute to an organisation that is doing important work.
What is a typical day volunteering with us?
My days vary enormously dependening upon the tasks I am given. I have collated the organisation’s responses to the consultation on a new HR scheme, contributed to team meetings of the volunteering and diversity team and the weekly project meetings of the transformation team. I prepared a survey and telephoned the recipients of the new case management system to provide information to the Senior Leadership team so they could identify immediate improvements necessary and to ensure appropriate resources were made available without delay.
What have you enjoyed the most about volunteering with us?
I have enjoyed working with professionals who are delivering a changing organisation at speed. This has enabled me to see the similarities and differences between my previous financial services background and this sector.
Tell us about a particular highlight of your volunteering?
I enjoy being part of a team, hearing the views of colleagues and learning about how things are done around here. I like being asked my opinion and given discrete tasks where I can add value that builds the capacity of The Children’s Society.
I enjoyed talking to The Children’s Society employees who were just getting to grips with the case management system and feeding back their congratulations and concerns to the project team. I also enjoy immensely the discrete tasks that I have carried out for the volunteering and diversity team, such as preparing line manager guidance on prayer breaks for the organisation.
Was volunteering what you expected it to be?
I thought I would be given a pile of work to do or a project that was awaiting resource. It feels like the organisation is very conscious that my time is my own and as such is very respectful of that. I only do one day a week with each team and so I appreciate that it is difficult to allocate a task that can be completed in such a fashion.
What have you gained from volunteering with us?
I had previously worked my entire career in one organisation. I now feel less apprehensive about starting work in a new company and picking up new systems and learning a new organisational structure.
Volunteering has also encouraged me to apply for roles in the public and voluntary sectors. I felt comfortable asking a colleague at The Children’s Society to critique a supporting statement for a job application that I had written in order to give me ideas for improvement.
What would you say to other people who are interested in volunteering with us?
I would actively encourage volunteering with The Children’s Society as the people are professional, friendly, knowledgeable, warm and ready to share their skills.
What would be your three top tips for new volunteers?
- Listen and ask questions so that you understand what is required.
- Be yourself and don’t be afraid. Share your experience but don’t be a bore.
- Enjoy making new friends and contacts.
Get involved in Volunteering
We have over 11,000 volunteers supporting our services, and this is just one of the many ways you can get involved and help children, young people and their families.