What the Trust volunteers do
A number of beneficiaries have been working with the Health & Wellbeing team for many years to provide support, information, advice and guidance to others and to share their own experience, knowledge and understanding of living with the effects of thalidomide.
Aims of the Trust's volunteer service
To provide confidential and understanding personal contact for those in need of support.
Volunteers work alongside and enhance the services provided by the Trust - they are not expected to be a replacement for the professional staff. They are not necessarily trained as counsellors or benefit specialists (although some are) but they can provide practical and essential information and will signpost you to other relevant information or organisations when necessary.
Most importantly, the volunteer service is a peer-to-peer scheme and volunteers provide an empathetic insight and understanding of your situation. Beneficiaries who volunteer to help other beneficiaries are far more likely to understand the issues they are facing – because they are facing them too. Their skills and knowledge are invaluable to the Trust in making sure that beneficiaries get the right help and support based on a shared understanding.
Volunteering is also a great way for beneficiaries to feel part of the Trust’s community and use their own experiences in a positive, constructive way – for their own wellbeing as well as others’.
Our volunteers provide support in a number of ways:
Talk Together Volunteers
TalkTogether is a telephone service offering conversation, moral support and understanding. Volunteers are assigned to another beneficiary who needs a ‘listening ear’ from someone who has gone through the same things and can offer understanding and experience. We make sure that volunteers are ‘matched’ to someone they can really help and ask you to make a regular commitment to them, if they need it, to provide continuity.
All contact is by phone and no personal details (like home addresses) are exchanged. Everything is discussed in confidence unless both parties agree to share what's been discussed with someone at the Trust, or an appropriate third party.
Connect Volunteers help other beneficiaries find services and support in their local area from practical services like benefits advice, domestic services and transport to social activities like gardening clubs and coffee mornings. This can all be done by phone, or visiting the beneficiary at home – but each volunteer will need to do a bit of research, or use their own knowledge of local services. The Trust can help.
General Support Volunteers
Many of our volunteers have additional skills and experience and are able to offer help on a range of issues such as:
- support applying for benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment, or other grants
- finding the right equipment or IT solutions to help make daily life easier
- dealing with social services in obtaining a direct payment
- improving wellbeing by providing emotional support
- advising on services available for people with disabilities
- simply providing friendship
Find out more