New Early Help Enabler wishes to build connections with voluntary, community and faith sector groups who support children and young people

What is Early Help?

Early Help is when action is taken as early as possible to provide support for children, young people and their families where issues or problems are emerging. This can be anything that the family is finding difficult and don’t feel they can deal with on their own and may need that additional support. Early Help can be put in place at any time in a child’s or young person’s life. If concerns are addressed earlier we are more able to bring about change and problems don’t become entrenched.

What is the role of the Early Help enabler?

The role of the Early Help enabler is to support organisations across the partnership (e.g. Health, Schools, Visitors, Colleges, Volunteer groups etc…) to ensure practitioners are confident with the Early Help process, so they understand how to enable people to access Early Help.

The role is to support the people that work with children young people and families, they can go through the full process with professionals so they are fully supported. We also offer different levels of support, they can support both the organisation and the parents. They want people to know that they can always pick up the phone and talk to them about Early Help.

Enablers can help you to undertake an Early Help Assessment and create a bespoke support plan, and build a meeting around the family. They can support you by chairing meetings or come out to your organisation and talk about their role, early help and how the thresholds work. They are there to make organisations feel confident with Early help, and offer support and guidance.

The enablers can support you with having these conversations and help you to explain it fully and put a package of support around the family to protect them.

Early help and Voluntary Sector link

Sam Pryor is now the link for the Early help and the Voluntary sector, and is available to offer support and guidance to voluntary/community groups who work directly with children and families around Early Help.

Details:
Sam.Pryor@dudley.gov.uk
01384 812440

Useful Links

http://safeguarding.dudley.gov.uk/child/work-with-children-young-people/dudley-early-help-strategy/

https://www.dudley.gov.uk/residents/care-and-health/children-and-family-care/early-help-for-children-and-families/

A volunteer’s eye view of … support #tuneintuesdays

When I had my induction, they told me all about the support they offer to volunteers here and it sounded really good.  It’s nice to know I will be listened to and know where to go if things aren’t going well.  So I’ve had an information sheet from the Volunteer Co-ordinator, it tells me about all the amazing things my support sessions will help with. I can’t wait, I’m going to be really looked after here – look at this!

The first thing it says is:

“The bottom line is that the relationship between the volunteer and the supervisor needs to be collaborative. When there is frequent communication, a volunteer feels supported and valued. We will be offering you support sessions every 6-8 weeks to make sure we support you in your role and show you how much we value your support.”

  • Apparently the most important thing is it will help me build a relationship with my supervisor and the organisation, plus it will make me feel involved and part of the organisation – this sounds great!
  • It will make me want to stay with the organisation and give me a sense of belonging
  • I will feel valued
  • It will help make me more productive
  • Oh this is a good one – it will help boost my skills and experience
  • This is reassuring – it will prevent problems escalating
  • Wow it will be an opportunity to tell them all my good ideas
  • It’s reassuring that they will help to assess if my role is too demanding/not demanding enough
  • Never thought about it before but it will help with my wellbeing
  • Also, it will give the Volunteer Co-ordinator an opportunity to keep me updated on what’s going on within the organisation and anything that may affect the volunteers. That’s great isn’t it, they really value their volunteers here and want to keep them informed.

I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy, aren’t I lucky to be volunteering for such a wonderful, caring organisation?

It was all going so well …

Well I’ve been here 6 months now and I’ve had one support session. It went really well and Claire was really happy with me, she said I had fitted in really well and I’m an asset to the team. In fact she’s promoted me to a more important role, it’s an extra session a week, but I can manage that.   Claire has given me her email address and works mobile number in case I need to get in touch with her and I now have my own email address too.

We had a second session booked, but Claire went off sick and she hasn’t given me another date since. That’s been over 4 months now with no session.  I’m beginning to think she’s avoiding me now.  She seemed really distracted and some of the other volunteers are gossiping about some problems with our funding. I’ve tried to email her to see if she can tell me what’s going on, but she just said not to worry when she did reply.

The thing is I’ve got quite a few things I need to talk to her about. This new role is very demanding, I’m doing lots of extra hours at home as I can’t get my paperwork done whilst I’m volunteering as the clients keep me busy.  I know I’m supposed to return my log sheets straight away after each session, but there is so much to log for each client and volunteers aren’t allowed to access the network because our passwords have all expired. The monitoring gentleman has emailed me a blank form and told me I can fill these in at home and email them to him within 48 hours of the contact.  I was ill last week with the flu and I’ve had a very sarcastic email from him telling me I’m failing in my duties. I really need to talk to Claire.

Oh no, one of the other volunteers has just told me that Claire has left, some of the other staff have been made redundant and we are moving premises.  Someone else is going to be looking after the volunteers now. Apparently it’s likely to be the HR Manager Louis in charge of the volunteer team.

The times they are a changing …

So I’ve just had a quick chat with Louis whilst I was making a cup of tea in the kitchen, I’ve been trying to catch up with him for weeks. He asked me if I could take on another session, as I’m really good with the clients and the day centre manager has been made redundant. I’ve told him I will do my best, but can we do it for a trial period to see if it works out ok. He was so grateful and reassured me it would only be for a few weeks whilst they restructure the post, which is fine for me as I just want to help.

I’m so angry after what happened today and it wasn’t my fault! 

So today I was left on my own in the centre all day with 6 clients and no staff were there, just one other volunteer who will only wash up and make drinks. Everyone wanted a chat today and I felt so frustrated as I felt I couldn’t talk to them all.  Poor Bill, I’m the only person he will talk to and he looked so sad as I only had time for a quick chat, and normally we do the crossword together from his newspaper.

I pinned Louis down in the kitchen [it seems to be the only place I see him nowadays] and told him we really needed to talk as I had a major complaint.  He reluctantly agreed he could spare 5 minutes and what was my problem.  I was hoping we could at least sit down, but no he wanted to chat in the kitchen – it’s hardly private is it?

First of all I explained why I felt so angry and frustrated, and he just leant against the kitchen counter smirking!  He was so condescending and told me I was overreacting, but if it would make me feel better I could tell him exactly what had happened.  Louis just stood there with his arms folded and started looking out of the window. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down.

So I started telling him what had happened and how I felt that I had been abandoned to run the session on my own with no support.  He then says he can see how angry I am and starts patting my hand, and telling me he knows how I feel.  His attitude really wasn’t helping at all and it was about to get a whole lot worse.  Louis starts saying it’s my fault for not telling him my concerns when I arrived or during the morning. That would have been impossible as the first time I’d seen him that day was when I spotted him in the kitchen.  His next solution was to talk to my manager and this incited me still further as he was the volunteer manager, but never there or if he was, was not available.  Louis then started to say that he had experienced the same thing himself many times and I should just suck it up, stop whingeing and get on with it!  I’m a volunteer not a paid member of staff and I told him it was too much responsibility. He responded that he thought I wanted to help and I needed to muck in and help out!

He then starts telling me about his training for a local marathon, his high protein diet and how his speed, and stamina are improving. Talk about changing the subject!  I decided that I may as well give up as he was clearly not interested and maybe it’s a one off and won’t happen again. Let’s stay positive.

I’ve lost my mojo, I’m not enjoying it any more and I’m thinking of leaving, but not sure how to do it.  I haven’t had a support session for ages and Louis didn’t seem interested last time we met in the kitchen and I tried to talk to him about my dissatisfaction. He hasn’t suggested setting up a meeting to talk about my concerns.

I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed and I don’t feel valued at all. It’s not just me though, other volunteers feel the same when we chat. None of the support I was promised has ever materialised and when I try to catch Louis to talk about it, he rushes off or starts talking about his marathon training again.  Maybe he’s just busy.  The role is too much, I’m now doing three sessions a week and it was supposed to be temporary. Last week I was on my own in the centre for three sessions and they haven’t replaced the centre manager.

My personal circumstances have changed too and I’ve now got to call in and see my Dad every morning because he’s had a fall. I emailed Louis as he won’t talk to me and he says I have to stick to my agreed contract hours, and I should be grateful he’s given me extra responsibility, but I didn’t ask for it!  I’m so fed up and feel I just can’t do it any more, I need to look after Dad he’s my priority.

The atmosphere has really changed, it used to be such a happy place but there’s lots of falling out, gossip and arguments between other volunteers.  I just try to stay out of it.  The general consensus is that the organisation is asking too much of us and using us to replace paid staff, but there’s no-one to raise it with.  One of the volunteers went to the Chief Exec a few weeks ago and got told off by Louis for telling tales.  I just feel really stressed and isolated, I have no-one to talk to.

Maybe it’s my fault and I should have said no to the extra responsibility, it’s me not them and I’m just being unreasonable.  I’ve got no choice I’ve got to leave and it’s such a shame.  Just spoken to Louis and he told me I’m a drama queen and I needn’t expect a reference from him as I am a troublemaker!  Volunteering is clearly not the thing for me 😦

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂  Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

A volunteer’s eye view of … induction #tuneintuesdays

It’s my first day, I’m so excited but nervous too

I’ve got to be there for 8:00 am and I’ve spoken to Martin, he seems really nice. He told me that I need to be there early before it gets busy and I understand.

Ok so I’m still in shock after that!  Here’s a quick synopsis of what happened and it was most definitely what I expected – he seemed so friendly and helpful on the phone!

Mark 

Right that’s the tour over with.  I have told you a bit about the organisation and you have told me a bit about yourself, this is the job that we have in mind for you, but we’ll have to be quick as I have a meeting in 5 minutes. Here’s a folder with all 25 of our policies and procedures. Can you just sign here to say you’ve read them?   You don’t mind chatting in the corridor do you?

Me

Is this the only place we can discuss this?  It’s not very private is it?

Mark

I didn’t think it would be confidential, you’ll have to fit in around me and I’m having to do this as well as my usual work.

Me

Ok, but what happens is you’re too busy and I need to discuss something? Who do I talk to?

 Mark


Anyone who’s here.

Me

That seems fair enough, what exactly will I be doing then?

 Mark

We want you to come in 3 times a week, from 9 until 2, which crosses a lunch period.  After your befriending session, you will be making sure that the people get to the hall for lunch, and covering staff absences.

 Me

I thought that the commitment was only half a day a week and no-one mentioned helping out at lunchtimes.

Mark

I thought you wanted to help us!  Volunteers here need to do a bit of everything and we need you to be flexible, we have staff off sick and on holiday at the moment, so you would have to muck in.

Me

I don’t mind helping out, but I can’t do 3 sessions a week, I have other commitments.

Mark

What are you being so awkward for?  Anyway you’ve signed a form to say you’ll do whatever we ask you to, you can’t wriggle out of it now!

Me

What! I think you are being a bit unreasonable and this sounds like a contract to me.  I’m sorry this isn’t going to work for me.

Mark

Well if you are going to be stroppy you aren’t going to fit in here and there are plenty of people who are happy to help out. We don’t want difficult people like you volunteering for us, we have standards to maintain!

I’m sure it’s me, but am I being unreasonable expecting something better?

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂 Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

A volunteer’s eye view of … selection and interviews #tuneintuesdays

Things are going great, they’ve called me in for an interview!

You are so excited and have obviously passed the initial stage of the selection process as you’ve just been invited to call in for an interview.  What do you wear? How long will it take to get there? I need to make sure I’m not late and make a really good impression.  Wait a minute though, I wonder if there are stairs, how am I going to manage them with my walking stick?  They want a presentation about how I can help to improve their services! Wow this must be a really important role and it’s probably going to lead to paid work.

There’s no-one here to meet me …

So how do I get in the building? I’ve been pushing the intercom for ages and I’m going to be late at this rate.  Hang on someone is coming that’s a relief.  Wish me luck.

I’ve been sitting in this waiting area for ages and my interview time was half an hour ago. I hope they know I’m here.  The person on the desk wasn’t very friendly so I don’t want to ask if they have told them I’m here.  Maybe they are just busy, that will be it.  Hang on someone is coming they look important, here goes.

Wow there is a panel of 3 people I wasn’t expecting this. It feels like a job interview and the questions they are asking are very challenging, they just asked me about my first job and what skills I’ve got.  There have been two interruptions already, with people coming in and asking Mrs Williams questions, she must be the boss. Hang on she’s just left the room, that’s a bit odd.  Mr Taylor has just got up and said he has to go now, that’s strange. Have they lost interest in me, I feel really awkward.  They were running through the role and my expected commitment, then they left.  The person who’s left is looking at their phone, that’s really rude!

They think it’s all over …

Mrs Williams they have just thanked me for coming and I’m being escorted out, apparently they will write and let me know if I’ve been successful.  Maybe this is a paid role, it all seems really formal.  I would really have liked to ask them some questions about what exactly the role involves, although they were talking about a completely different role from the one I applied for and I don’t really have the skills they are asking for, I haven’t got a degree. Also I wanted to ask if there was any training involved and if I would get expenses reimbursed, I can’t really justify spending £4.50 a day as the role is 5 days a week and I’m on benefits.

Wow that receptionist is a bit stroppy they just shouted at me for not signing out.  Not sure if this is somewhere I want to come back too, it all seems like work to me, not volunteering.

I’ve got a letter … hope it’s good news

Oh dear that was short and to the point.

“We found you to be unsuitable for the role following your interview and your motivations for volunteering do not meet our mission statement”

That’s that then isn’t it?

Hang on, they didn’t ask me about why I wanted to volunteer, I had an answer prepared and everything, but no-one asked.  It must be my fault and it would have been nice to have some feedback and explain why I’m unsuitable.  Maybe I’m not good enough for them and just not cut out to volunteer 😦

 

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂  Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

A volunteer’s eye view of … recruitment #tuneintuesdays

So you want to volunteer and start looking at what’s out there

Where do you start? I’m guessing you may have spotted an advertisement for volunteers somewhere, maybe a poster, a leaflet, or on the internet?  Did you identify with the advert or did it put you off?  If you see this for example, would you assume they were looking for older volunteers and you are in your teens? Or maybe this implies they are only seeking female volunteers and you are a man!  Is this organisation open to a variety of age, genders and abilities, or is the organisation seeking a particular type of volunteer to suit their client group?

Are there any clues about what the organisation does or the types of role available? It’s not a problem if there’s no more info here but a  contact phone number or email address would be helpful to find out more.  It’s a bit of a cheek asking you to send a SAE if they want you to give your time don’t you think?  I’m guessing you are probably going to walk away from this one and look elsewhere aren’t you?

What sort of information do you need to see if this is the right organisation or role for you?

It would be great if there was the name of the organisation seeking volunteers on there and maybe a link to a website or Facebook page so you can find out more.  If they could give you somewhere to do a little more research how much better would that be? Perhaps you are looking for a particular type of role or a particular area that’s handy for you to volunteer.  Where the organisation is based would be helpful, what they do and the type of roles available would all help you to make an informed decision about whether it may be a good option for you.

Some organisations may have age restrictions and not take volunteers under a certain age because of the nature of the roles they are recruiting for, or the client group they support.  Many organisations will not take volunteers under 18 as the majority of insurance policies will not cover younger volunteers.

Do they really want volunteers?  There’s no info and no-one is responding when I try to get in touch!

So you’ve done a bit of digging and found out what the organisation does which is a great start and they are advertising that they want volunteers, but there doesn’t seem to be any info on this site. Wait, you’ve found something elsewhere on the site but it’s dated 4 years ago, is this still current?  Brilliant you’ve found a contact page, but it’s bounced straight back, so it looks like the email address is wrong and there is no phone number. Is the organisation still running?  Do they actually really want volunteers? If you can’t get in touch how are you supposed to find out more information and apply?

Ever wondered what happens when prospective volunteers are given the run around? 

This fabulous video, tells the tale of a lovely lady who simply wants to help out.  By the end it’s clear she’s disillusioned to say the least.  If this has happened you would give up the idea of volunteering altogether wouldn’t you?

It’s not rocket science – it’s called communication!

So you’ve finally found the right information and someone has been in touch at last. Now you are really rolling aren’t you?  Hang on you’ve got a query, so who do you talk to?  You’ve rung the number you have been given and the person who answers has no idea who deals with volunteers and there is no person of that name there!  You are passed around several people, none of whom know anything about volunteering, but hang on a minute the mystery is solved – Mark left last week and no-one is picking this up.  Someone will ring you back.

Whoop whoop you have received an application form in the post

My goodness what a form, you want to volunteer not apply for MI5!

There are page and pages of questions and some of them you just can’t answer.  It’s in a very tiny print and some of it doesn’t make sense at all!  If English isn’t your first language or you struggle with reading and writing you aren’t going to complete this are you?

Hang on it’s asking for details of qualifications and if you have a university degree?  You can’t fill this in, you left school at 16 and don’t have any formal qualifications.  They were asking for volunteers to help in a charity shop, why would you need a degree?

There’s a long section asking about criminal records and convictions, oh no I can’t fill this in and may as well give up. It doesn’t mention the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, so that bike you pinched from a skip when you were 16 will stop you volunteering, even though it’s 32 years ago.  They clearly are very picky about who they have volunteering, you were hoping to volunteer repairing donated furniture and helping in the warehouse sorting donations, why would a criminal record from years ago be relevant?

Oh my goodness they are asking for a full work history for the last 20 years and 3 referees, which must be past employers.  I have been bringing up my family and not worked for 16 years, so how can I fill that in?  If I can’t provide work references this means I can’t volunteer can I?

Ooh great they’ve sent me some role descriptions for the roles they are recruiting for, I’m sure I can do these

Let’s have a look at these, I’m feeling really positive.  Oh no the language in this document reads like something a solicitor would send you. That’s a bit scary and I really don’t understand some of it.  They must be after really intelligent volunteers and I’m not sure I will measure up.  Look at the list of skills and experience they are asking for, I can’t do half of those!

Wait a minute this role description is 4 pages, surely they don’t expect their volunteers to do all this do they?   It’s talking about duties of a volunteer and responsibilities.  That’s a lot to ask for a volunteer!  Wow this really does read like a job description. Maybe this means that volunteering will lead to a paid job, it certainly reads like something you would give to a new employee. That would be great if they are going to employee me when I’ve been volunteering for a while.

Some of the duties and responsibilities in here are quite demanding though aren’t they? Plus they are asking for 3 full days a week, but I was hoping to juggle this around my caring commitments.  It looks like they want a minimum commitment of 18 hours so that’s going to cause me problems and the Job Centre are going to stop my benefit if I do that many hours aren’t they?

It says I need to pay £250 for my training, but if I guarantee to give them 300 hours of volunteering I don’t have to pay it back. That’s no problem, but where am I going to find that sort of money?  Looks like I can’t afford to volunteer there.

I’m so disappointed and I was really looking forward to volunteering, but it looks like volunteering isn’t going to work for me 😦

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂  Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

 

It must be my fault! A volunteer’s eye view of … #tuneintuesdays

So lots of articles out there around managing volunteers and good practice tend to focus on the volunteer-involving organisation’s view of the volunteering journey and I’ve decided it’s time to see things from the volunteer’s perspective. Quite often volunteers blame themselves and quite often it’s down to the organisation when things go wrong

Running a volunteer centre means that I am often contacted by volunteers who feel they have not had the best experience, been treated unfairly or are quite simply disillusioned with the whole thing and have decided it’s not worth the effort!  I’m often called on to do mediation or advocacy to try to repair the volunteer/organisation relationship too, so I’m encouraging you lovely volunteer managers out there to walk in your volunteers’ shoes and see the other side of the relationship.

These posts are not a criticism in any way of how you do things, they are just aimed to help you understand a volunteer’s perspective and enhance your volunteer/organisation relationships.   Managing volunteers is challenging as all volunteers are totally unique and often you are constrained by systems and procedures you don’t really have control over: however, you can certainly personalise parts of your volunteer management systems to make them more volunteer-friendly I’m sure.

Hopefully this series of posts will help you see things from the volunteer’s perspective and improve the way you interact with them, after all a happy, valued volunteer is more productive and a great advertisement for your organisation.

There are eight elements to this series and although there may some sections that appear to repeat what is in other posts, I felt it would be easier if I themed each one, so please do bear with them.

  1. Recruitment
  2. Selection and interviews
  3. Induction
  4. Support
  5. Motivation
  6. Development and training
  7. Recognition
  8. Volunteers’ rights

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for 🙂  Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk