How volunteering can open doors, even to a new career
This week has been National Careers Week (2nd – 7th March), when many school leavers and students will have been thinking about their career options and perhaps volunteering to gain experience. We have lots of wonderful volunteers in Dimensions who just want to do something ‘extra’ outside of their everyday jobs to contribute to their communities. But we also offer work experience volunteering, and this is one of the ways we can encourage suitable candidates to consider a social care career with Dimensions. In fact, volunteering opened a door on to a whole new career for me, so I thought it would be good to share my own story!
My volunteering journey
Back in 2017 I was working in publishing and debating a career change, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought that volunteering would help me decide, so I started researching companies that might interest me. I was drawn to Dimensions because of the organisation’s values – and I’m not just saying that, it really was the case! The Community Volunteering Champion (CVC) role sounded interesting and flexible, so I hoped I could work it around my full-time job.
CVCs basically provide additional support to the Volunteering Officers, at a local level. One of my first tasks was to find places where volunteering roles could be advertised, which was really fun! As a CVC you also get the chance to take part in local events, such as careers fairs. I really enjoyed explaining about Dimensions and my role.
Working at Dimensions
After a short time volunteering with Dimensions, I felt that they were the company I wanted to work for. I successfully applied for a regional assistant role in September 2017 and this allowed me to learn so much more about Dimensions and what we do. I was based at the Outreach 3Way office in Crawley where they have a day centre, so got to know some of the people we support, which was really lovely.
I’d read about Aspire, Dimensions career development scheme, and thought it sounded unique. I got a place after about a year as a regional assistant and my coach helped me to realise that volunteering was something I was really passionate about. This led to a conversation with the Head of Volunteering, who told me that a new role was being created and I could apply. I wasn’t sure but my Aspire coach gave me the confidence to go for it!
My current role as a Volunteering Coordinator involves providing day to day support to the five Volunteering Officers, helping to make the recruitment and on-boarding process as smooth as possible. I also help to advertise the roles and share good news stories – I enjoy working closely with the Marketing and Internal Communications teams.
This includes an increase in the number of student volunteers, whom we support with work experience placements.
Many volunteers become ‘buddies’ to people we support, sharing their interests and bringing special skills (like music or art) into services. Volunteers can also contribute to Activate outcomes, such as building a new friendship, developing a new skill or gaining confidence with getting out and about. Recently we have also seen more corporate volunteers – for example, where a company sends a group of volunteers for a day and they help with a one-off project like transforming a garden at one of our services.
We are currently recruiting more Community Volunteering Champions (CVCs), because each of our Volunteering Officers covers a large region and the CVCs can be more local points of contact. They bring important local knowledge of their area, such as events where Dimensions could get involved.
If you are interested volunteering with Dimensions, please get in touch. The Volunteering team are a friendly bunch! Call us on 0300 303 9162 for an informal chat or find out more about our existing roles on the volunteering web page.
By Jenny Ng, Volunteering Coordinator