Friday, 11 February 2011

Becoming a volunteer

Today was the day I went for an interview for a voluntary role with the Citizens Advice Bureau.  They have a new project that trains and support Healthy Lifestyle Coaches, to assist people with myriad issues that are affecting their lives.  The idea is that the coach assists the individual to identify, create an action plan for and reach particular goals.  These might be to do with resolving issues about relationships, weight, substance use and abuse, work/life balance issues......

In my previous life, before motherhood, I worked with people in many roles; as a residential social worker with children in care, then with adults with disabilities in a care home, then as a volunteer project manager where the volunteers had disabilities, and in the job I had before maternity leave, a volunteer project manager where the volunteers were all under 25 and the recipients of their volunteering actions were children with disabilities.

I kind of feel that the post I went for today SHOULD be a paid role.  I understand why it isn't.  My feeling that way isn't going to change society, the way funding happens (it's all down to fashions folks, not just about there not being enough in the pot to go round.  If your particular project is not "of the now" you'll have to fight harder and longer and probably eventually give up the ghost - I used to fund-raise as a part of my roles.)

The upshot is that the times I would need to be available over-run school times, so I would need to employ a childminder.  And the organisation that is offering the post is unable to offer full expenses for this.  I don't blame the organisation.  It's always been a tough call trying to get parents of pre-school children involved with volunteering because of that very issue.  If an organisation can't offer full expenses, or even two thirds of that because don't forget you need a childminder for not only the period where you won't be with the child, but for a period either side of that to cover your travel time, then you can pretty much forget someone like me being able to take up a post.

The Children's Centre where I hold my classes and attend toddler groups has offered me the opportunity to do something for them as a volunteer.  So I've taken it up.  I already attend one group a week, with my son, helping out at a Speech and Language group.  And through them I shall have another opportunity soon where they will take my son at their creche for the twelve mornings training required, and where I can take my son with me to the sessions I will be volunteering at.

A completely different role than the one I was interviewed for today.  But because it's child friendly I shall take it up.  It's still a valuable role and one that I think will be good for me.

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