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Volunteer Plus Programme Summary

The vision of Changing Lives Charity (CLC) is to assist individuals in changing their lives and helping them to prepare for a more fulfilled and purposeful future. It is a non-discriminatory organisation and works with people of all faiths or no faith. CLC believes that each person has infinite worth and potential.

CLC operates a social enterprise of the same name which, through a small number of shops, a retail warehouse and services provision to North Somerset Council (NSC), offers affordable second-hand furniture and household items to those of limited means.

CLC already enjoys a long-standing relationship with Andrew House in Clevedon, which provides supported living for up to 11 men in recovery from chemical/substance addiction. Volunteer Plus now aims to build upon the financial support it provides to Andrew House by implementing a meaningful programme of education, training and employment (ETE), as well as longer-term personal / professional development and ongoing personal support from a Mentor for Life [1]

It is intended that these opportunities will also be extended to those living in other areas where CLC operates (e.g. Weston-s-Mare, Nailsea and Henbury in Bristol).

The programme’s long-term aim is to function as a supportive ‘stepping stone’ towards a more settled and purposeful future consisting of paid employment and independent living.

 Volunteer Plus Vision

Volunteer Plus is a personalised volunteering programme built around further education, work-based training and meaningful, unpaid employment.

A largely bespoke programme, operating over a 12-month period (although this is flexible), which can respond to the needs of each participant within a structured framework.

In exchange for volunteered hours worked within CLC, the programme will develop ‘avenues of progression’ built around its core ‘ETE’ strands. These avenues will incorporate:

·         A basic induction specific to the requirements of each area of the business e.g. manual handling.

·         Supervised work experience, based on rotation (this is flexible) of roles within each area of the business; Retail Assistant, Delivery Driver’s Mate, Warehouse Assistant, Upcycling & Repair Assistant and Head Office Assistant. These roles will enable participants to gain experience in customer service, logistics, stock and waste management, finance, marketing, IT, information management and administration.

·         Skills-specific training and employment-related education courses related to the above business areas. If participants do not have basic level English and Maths or aspire to train as a Care Worker or Plasterer or in another area that isn’t related to retail for example, assistance will be given to arrange further education courses at the local colleges. Although it is believed that further education at a college is a crucial part of participants long-term development, it is acknowledged that not all participants will be able to commit to this in addition to 15 hours per week volunteering. Flexibility and a personalised approach will be adopted with each participant.

·         One-to-one mentoring to ensure long-term professional and personal well-being, both during the length of the programme and beyond completion, if participants require ongoing support.

It is hoped that these ‘avenues’ of experience and progression, which each participant will have input into shaping, will benefit them by helping to meet the needs and expectations of potential future employers, through on-going training, education, supervision and mentoring support.

Participants will be given a Volunteer Plus portfolio that will follow them through the programme. The portfolio will include a checklist of all they have achieved in each business area, with signatures and comment from store managers and mentors. This will not only serve to increase confidence but will provide evidence at job interviews of the participants skills and commitment to work. It will also be a permanent record of achievement, will aide participants when filling in job application forms and boost their CVs.    

Volunteer Plus Outcomes

Ultimately, the long-term aim of Volunteer Plus is to enable participants to develop the transferable skills, qualities and self-confidence required to encourage full integration back into their local community and any future workplace, with ongoing mentor assistance to support them as they proceed on this journey towards re-settlement.

It is hoped that the programme will help each participant to re-establish a positive, forward-thinking mind-set through improved mental health, more robust pro-social attributes (i.e., resilience, self-esteem, self-confidence etc.), and a discerning and disciplined ability to make positive lifestyle choices.

[1]  Mentor for Life: registered Trade Mark pending.