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January at the Volunteer Centre

January is often a quiet month, but it hasn’t felt like it at the Volunteer Centre. We held our latest Volunteer Fair on the 20th Jan, at the Geddes Place United Reform Church. This was a new venue for us, and it proved a success. Previously we’d been using our training room here at Crayford Manor House, but we are a little out of the way here. Relocating to the bright lights and big city (relatively speaking) of Bexleyheath made the Fair much more accessible. We had almost 50 people through the door over 2 hours, most of whom seemed eager to get involved, browsing the stalls and chatting to local organisations. Please let us know if you’d like to book a stall for the next Fair. It’s a great opportunity to meet people who are interested in volunteering.

On the 12th Jan we had our Volunteer Supervision training, which covered key topics around supporting volunteers. I was the trainer, and it was a lively session. Plenty of questions, and I hope, plenty of good answers too. Our next workshop is on Volunteers and the Law, on 15 Feb – you still have time to book a place.

Sharon, our Volunteer Support Project (VSP) worker, attended a health fair for young people at Bexley College on the 25th Jan. It was held by the Clinical Commissioning Group, who are working with local schools and colleges to promote careers within the NHS and raise awareness of public health issues. Sharon staffed our stall and met plenty of young people. Youth volunteering is a particular concern of ours – if you’d like more information on involving younger people as volunteers do let us know.

The event made me think about the health benefits of volunteering. It’s not a magic bullet, but studies have shown that volunteering can be helpful, especially for general wellbeing and mental health. The NHS summarise some of the findings here: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/volunteering/Pages/Whyvolunteer.aspx

Oh, and we finally got our certificate for passing our 'Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation' - we actually achieved 'VCQA' last year, but now have the piece of paper to prove it. VCQA is administered by NCVO, and is a quality standard for local volunteering development agencies. It was a lot of work to achieve it - we are a relatively small Volunteer Centre - but the process was helpful, a rare chance to take a step back to look at what we were doing and how this measured up. 

Beyond that, we’ve been getting on with our day-to-day work – seeing potential volunteers for our signposting sessions, working with people with learning difficulties and mental health problems in the VSP project, advising people on managing volunteers, and co-ordinating our Health Champion project.