Meet some of our Volunteers
In 2017, Dimensions launched a volunteering programme so more people have the opportunity to get involved in their community and develop new skills. Our Volunteer Spotlight will shine a light on some of our fantastic volunteers.
Over the past 12 months, over 180 volunteers have worked with Dimensions colleagues to make a real difference to the people we support.
On this page, you can meet some of those and find out what volunteering with Dimensions means to them.
In 2018 we had over 183 volunteers give a total 17,600 hours of their time to people we support, sparking new friendships and new interests. This month we’re shining the ‘volunteer spotlight’ on Rhion Williams, whose volunteering experience led her to befriend Angela, a person we support in Wales.
“I’ve been volunteering as part of the ‘Be a Buddy’ scheme in Dimensions, and I was partnered up with Angela based on our interests. I had left my job and felt it was the perfect opportunity to finally do some volunteering, now that I had all this spare time on my hands, but I also did it because I wanted to feel a part of something.
“I can honestly say, volunteering has helped me just as much as it has (hopefully!) helped Angela. I have made a friend and genuinely look forward to catching up each week.
“We go to the gym, followed by bowling and food in town. It’s got me back into the gym and reminded me how much I love bowling – despite Angela winning EVERY time! It was especially rewarding as the weeks went on and I could tell Angela felt more comfortable around me, as our conversations lasted longer and became more wide-ranging.
“I can’t recommend volunteering enough – especially with Dimensions. They always check in and ask how things are going.”
Claire, the lead support worker at Angela’s house, says:
“Rhion has had such a positive impact and Angela really enjoys having her as a volunteer – they have a really great relationship. Rhion started off volunteering just for a couple of hours but, as they get on so well, Rhion now spends the whole day with Angela. Angela has become a lot more confident since having Rhion as a volunteer and she has gained more independence as she arranges her volunteer day directly with Rhion without any staff involvement.’
If Angela and Rhion’s story has inspired you to recruit a volunteer for a person you support, please speak to your line manager or (if you are the manager) contact the volunteering team for assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org
The volunteer spotlight this month shines a light on Dimensions colleagues who give up a bit of time to do something different. Volunteering is a great way for colleagues in business support to connect with the people we support.
Tina Woffington, Learning Services Manager in Dimensions, shared her recent experience of volunteering at Dunstans Drive. Tina was joined by two colleagues, supported by the Volunteering team, responding to a call for help with the garden at Dunstans Drive: the grass needed cutting, shrubs needed pruning, the fence needed painting, and there were weeds and brambles to deal with…
Here’s what Tina says:
“I’ve volunteered in some capacity all my life, from when my children were little (play group, clubs, etc). I’ve marshalled local club running races, the London Marathon and I was also a Games Maker.
“So what attracted me to volunteering to help with the garden at Dunstans Drive? Simply because I like volunteering… the more I give, the happier it makes me. I am fortunate to work in a department where my line manager (Simon Gosney) is supportive of volunteering and happy for me to take some time out of my working day to volunteer. I work hard at my job and know I’ll find a way to catch up with my tasks, with a bit of extra effort.
“I’m not a good gardener – I don’t always know a weed from a flower – but I do have the ability to dig, prune, mow, or sweep. What I am trying to say, is that everyone can find something they are good at when gardening – you really don’t have to be Monty Don off ‘Gardeners’ World’.
“I came away happy from my volunteering stint, because I’d helped transform a scruffy and unkempt front garden into a tidy, looked-after garden. It was so rewarding. Lenka (the Locality Manager) and her colleagues work hard supporting. They don’t have time to garden and there is no funding for a gardener – they just needed a hand.
“We did have a little bit of extra help… I was just a little bit cheeky… Two men from The Green Company, who happened to be working on the garden next door, wanted access to the back garden of Dunstans Drive, to be able to cut an overhanging shrub. I spotted two huge lawn-mowers on their truck and before I knew it I saying, “If I make you a cup of tea would you run your lawn-mower over the front lawn?” They said “yes” and they were amazing: they did even more than we asked, at the front and the back of the property, strimming, mowing, clipping and clearing up after themselves, all for a cup of tea and biscuit. There are some lovely, lovely people in this world.”
If that’s inspired you to get stuck into some volunteering, email the team to find out what you could do: email@example.com
Dave came to Dimensions as a volunteer and landed a career
This month, we’re shining the volunteer spotlight on David Leatherbarrow. Dave joined Dimensions as a volunteer in December 2017 and has since joined the staff team as a PMO Delivery Manager. Here is Dave’s story in his own words:
“It was in December last year, after a period of illness, that I began to feel I was well enough to start doing things again – and I was really fed up of daytime TV. I was looking for a local company, with a good reputation and doing something worthwhile which was not part of the environment I’d spent my working life in.
“After searching online I sent my CV to the volunteering team at Dimensions. I wanted to work from home while I was still recovering so the IT team loaned me a laptop and I started volunteering for Tracy Garcia in the Quality & Compliance team. The flexibility of being able to work when I wanted really helped me – it was just what I’d been looking for.
“I started to get a really good feeling about Dimensions, felt really happy working with everyone and everybody seemed helpful, very inclusive and positive, and it made it easy.
“I went on to support the Finance team for three afternoons a week. As I was recovering well, when I saw the PMO Delivery Manager vacancy, I applied. I had the interview and was offered the job, and was very pleased.
“Since starting on 23rd July I’m enjoying the role very much and everyone has been great, and very friendly. It’s a good cause and I would recommend Dimensions to anybody”.
A voluntary role can provide someone new to Dimensions and/or social care with a taste of what we do, before they apply to a paid role. (Voluntary roles cannot be equivalent to paid roles or ever replace paid roles).
Many volunteers are also looking to do something worthwhile alongside their paid work or study, and can bring something extra to operations or business teams.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
Our monthly volunteering spotlight shines a light on the contribution that volunteers make to Dimensions and the people we support. Volunteering provides valuable experience to the volunteer and in some cases it has been a chance to learn about Dimensions before going on to a paid role. During National Volunteers’ Week we also heard from managers about how volunteers have supported their teams (scroll down on the blog to find them). This month, we interviewed Jenny Ng about her experiences of volunteering with Dimensions.
Jenny said: “I began volunteering with Dimensions around January 2017, as a Community Volunteering Champion (CVC) in Portsmouth. Later in the year, I applied for a paid position as Regional Assistant for Outreach 3Way, and began in this role in September 2017, providing administrative support to the Operations Director and Locality Managers and helping to ensure the smooth running of the office. Although the two roles aren’t directly related, I’m really passionate about volunteering and chose to continue being a CVC alongside my paid role, in Outreach 3Way. This can be challenging at times, but I see volunteers as an untapped resource that can really add extra value to our services. It’s all about managing to find and retain the right people!
“As a Community Volunteering Champion, I support Locality Managers to recruit for suitable volunteers to enhance their services. This includes writing the role descriptions, creating marketing materials and making connections within the community to help spread the word locally about available roles.
“Volunteers usually offer their time because they want to give back and have a particular skill they would like to share. For example, a volunteer with an art background might come up with creative ways of engaging people we support in arts and crafts activities. Volunteers also bring a fresh take on current activities, which can be a real boost.
“Creating a new role for a volunteer could also provide a great opportunity for a person you support to meet new people and make new connections based on shared interests. I would definitely recommend colleagues consider engaging a volunteer.”
Email email@example.com to get the ball rolling!
“I started volunteering with Dimensions in October 2017. At the time I was working part-time, so thought it would be nice to do some charity work. Looking online, I found an advert for ‘cooking buddies’ in Dimensions, which caught my eye because I have experience as a chef and have a cooking diploma. I also have quite a bit of training experience from a previous life, when I owned a recruitment consultancy, so thought it would be a good fit.
“I’ve been running cooking lessons most Friday mornings, at a communal house in Staines. Normally 2 or 3 of the guys are keen to cook each time (Jo and Geoffrey are my regulars) and any that don’t want to do the cooking still get to eat whatever we prepare, so it works out well for everyone!
“We keep things pretty straight-forward, but we’ve cooked everything from lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese to roast dinners and quiches, to millionaire shortbread and carrot cake. Everything is made from scratch (including the pastry!) which I feel is very important. Not only does it taste better, but it’s far more healthy and also cheaper than ready meals and processed food. And we have a lot of fun making it!
“I’m hoping with the cooking lessons they’ll be able to take some of what they’ve learnt and cook a little more with fresh ingredients.
“I’m working full-time now but really enjoy cooking with the people Dimensions supports, so I fully intend to continue cooking with them once or twice a month”.
“I have been volunteering with Discovery since they started, although I originally began volunteering with the people who transferred to Discovery in 2006.
“I mainly give my time to the Sea Horse Centre. A lot of the customers there do not have family involvement in their life and I feel I am one of the few people in their lives which are not paid to be there, so we have a different relationship.
“It is more relaxed, jokey and helps them to have more of a normal life.
“When I retired from the forces what I really missed was interaction with colleagues, being part of a team and volunteering has given me that back and of course makes you feel good and warm inside, offering people the opportunity to do things that they might not otherwise do.
“I do a wide range of things during my volunteering. Originally I was teamed up with a gardening group and I do that every Tuesday.
“I asked the people we support if we could do anything, what would it be? They always say a walk in the countryside or on Exmoor, so we do that lot and they love it.
“A lot of people live independently so I visited them and have taken them hawk flying on the moors, it’s fantastic they put the bird on their arm, will put a piece of meat in their hands and watch it feed, they absolutely love it.
“I also chair a friends group to raise money for the centre, xmas lunches, getting musicians in etc.”
Find out more about volunteering with Dimensions.
Our monthly ‘Volunteer Spotlight’ shines a light on volunteers in Dimensions. This month, we spoke to Jennifer Buckley, a volunteer ‘buddy’ in Wales, who was nominated by a person we support, Kelly.
In Kelly’s own words: “Jen comes and picks me up a couple of times a week and we do lovely things together like going to the cinema, going for lunch and going for walks around the park.
I really enjoy my time with Jen. It makes me really, really happy and we laugh lots. Jen makes me motivated and I like having her to talk to.”
Jennifer says: “I’ve only been volunteering since the first week of January but I can’t praise volunteering in Dimensions enough.
“I applied to be a volunteer buddy and was matched with a lady called Kelly, who has learning disabilities and cerebral palsy. Twice a week we get together and do fun activities such as going out for food, to bowling, or to bingo.
“I had never played bingo before, so Kelly got the opportunity to teach me some new things, which she loved! Already, we are like best friends. She told me recently that I am ‘the best volunteer ever’ and have made her happy, since her mum died last year.
“As we both lost our mums recently, on Mothers’ Day this year we went for lunch. I suggested we make a Mothers’ Day card together, to remember our mums by. It was a really lovely moment and she is going to share the card we made with her family.
“I started volunteering as part of my Community Health and Wellbeing degree, but I enjoy it so much, I can’t see myself stopping. I get so much happiness from it and from seeing Kelly happy, too.
“It has changed my life for the better”.
Find out more about volunteering with Dimensions.
“My role is supporting Lisa, a volunteering officer. An average day could involve looking at emails, helping with the recruitment drive and training, and sometimes attending meetings.
“I happened upon this opportunity quite by chance on Indeed.com. I wanted to get back to part-time work but it was quite difficult to find jobs that provide the kind of flexibility that Dimensions does.
“I wanted to be a part of a working community and to keep my skills up to date. The best thing about it is feeling that I’m contributing to something worthwhile and making a difference.
“I never anticipated the kind of support that I actually received. You can do such a range of things here and the amount of support you get is amazing. It’s a great place to get started. What you choose to offer is up to you, and no contribution is too small.”
We’re delighted to say that, after gaining valuable experience in her voluntary role at Dimensions, Rekha has now accepted the offer of a paid job as Employee Support Assistant for the West Midlands Pension Fund.
Find out more about volunteering with Dimensions.
“I’ve been volunteering with Dimensions for almost 5 months now and I absolutely love it.
“I wanted to give something back to my community. I’m inspired by my girlfriend who works at a homelessness organisation and my mum who is a nurse caring for people with mental health issues.
“I’m also studying a computing course at university, but I felt worried about the lack of work experience on my CV.
“As an IT Support Volunteer I help Dimensions employees with a range of computing issues, which is great because I get to tap into my skillset and interest in computing.
“I’m most proud of the internal newsletter I’ve produced for the team and I really enjoy putting it together.
“Before I volunteered with Dimensions, I was very shy and anxious. But the Dimensions team – especially Teri (Regional Assistant) and Amie (HR Business Partner) – have really welcomed me. I’ve made new friends and I feel like part of the team.
“The social skills I’ve learnt have been one of the most enjoyable and beneficial parts of being a volunteer.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Dimensions for taking me on as a volunteer. I’ve learnt so much and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Find out more about volunteering with Dimensions.