Putting the va va voom in Volunteering

Michelle - H&W Administrator and Wellbeing Adviser

Michelle Robinson has been working with the Thalidomide Trust for just over four years and this week is a special one for her. It’s National Volunteers' Week, a subject very close to her heart.

“Having worked for the Trust for over four years, I was really excited when I took on the Volunteer Co-ordinator role. I’ve always enjoyed working with volunteers and have wanted to grow our volunteer numbers for a long time.

It’s my job to look at the type of volunteers we need to meet other beneficiaries’ needs, and then recruit and interview them. I then match them with beneficiaries, who need their support and who share the same interests and life experience. We’ve got two types of volunteering opportunities running at the moment; -

Our Talk Together scheme supports people who feel isolated, lonely or are going through a tough time, through a weekly, 30-minute telephone call.
Getting that weekly call can do so much for a person’s self-esteem, they really look forward to that regular contact, someone to chat to and build a relationship with.

We matched three new people with volunteers just last week. It’s really exciting.

Our Connect Volunteers help beneficiaries deal with specific issues and build their confidence. They go to people’s homes if necessary, and support them at meetings and appointments, so the support is a bit more practical, as well as reassuring people that they’re not alone.

All our volunteers are beneficiaries of the Thalidomide Trust, themselves, and have a huge range of different skills, qualities and experiences. It’s wonderful to see the change they make in improving other beneficiaries’ quality of life.

Volunteer Referrals between October 2017 and September 2018

They’ve all been through things themselves and get a terrific sense of achievement from helping someone move on – the way they did.

I try to support our volunteers as much as I can, giving them the chance to talk with me about how things are going, and offload. I also try to thank them regularly and share all the positive feedback I receive – it’s immensely appreciated.

Managing volunteering at the Trust gives me real satisfaction. One beneficiary recently told me that her volunteer had really opened up her world. Find out more about volunteering for us –it can open up your world, too.”

We’re sharing volunteering information on our website to mark National Volunteers' Week, which will continue, and we’re also hoping to set up an online forum for volunteers. Click here to read stories from our volunteers, read information on how you can get involved or request support from us.

Events coming up at the Trust

  • Local event in Brighton on 12 June
  • Volunteer Away Day on 21 August
  • Local event in the North West in October - where you may see some of our volunteers!