To mark Volunteers’ Week 2019, we caught up with Sheffield Mencap & Gateway’s Volunteer Coordinator, Jonathan Raimondi to ask a few questions about his role, and what you can expect from a volunteering role with us.
Can you describe what a ‘typical’ day in your role as Volunteer Coordinator involves?
Not sure there is such a thing! A mixture of chatting to and interviewing potential new volunteers, answering lots of phone calls and email enquiries, processing DBS checks and references etc ready to start new volunteers and mainly, nattering to our existing volunteers and checking how everyone’s doing.
On top of that, I do various bits and bobs like advertising roles, going out to meetings and volunteering fairs. And the main reason I’m here, which is to chat with our group members with learning disabilities, and try and get people as excited to work with them as we all are.
How did you find out about the role at Sheffield Mencap & Gateway and what experience did you feel made you a good candidate?
I started here about 12 years ago as a volunteer and volunteered on pretty much every project before becoming staff. I’d volunteered and been a trustee elsewhere too so thought I knew what volunteering can do for you. On top of that, I definitely knew what this place can do for you and the people we help, and knew how important volunteers are to the running of the place.
Obviously, the benefits that volunteers bring to the people and organisations they work with are massive, but how can becoming a volunteer help the individual themselves?
Hugely and for all sorts of reasons. Practically, the experience can be very valuable for those thinking of a career working in learning disabilities, or linked to, like nurses, occupational therapists etc. It’s fun and a good way to meet people which often appeals to full time professionals, and it’s great for those who have recently retired and have a bit of a gap to fill.
Volunteering can also be a great way to get back into work for those who have been unemployed or poorly and unable to work. But it also does you good to help people, and I think in terms of learning how to communicate and connect with others, it’s a great experience for anyone.
If people have additional needs, how can you support them into a volunteering role?
We’ve a great record for supporting those with additional needs, be that illness or disability, in their volunteering. I came here myself after a chronic illness, and rehabiltatively volunteering is brilliant. I’m biased but I’d have to say that volunteering here is even better. It’s fun, it’s non-pressured and volunteers here are really valued and made to feel so welcome by the group members as well as staff.
I’ll never make out I know how anyone feels, but I do think that having been through something gives you a bit of insight; the main thing being to tell people to take their time. And there’s been countless lovely stories now of people moving on from here into work having not been able to for years.
What has been the highlight of your role so far at Sheffield Mencap & Gateway?
Oooof, no idea!! Up there would be Mencap’s Volunteer of the Year Award a few years ago, where several of our volunteers were honoured. But genuinely, it’s an extremely cheesy answer but true – there are highlights most days here. There aren’t many jobs where you wake up perfectly happy to go to work.
What’s your message to the wonderful volunteers at Sheffield Mencap & Gateway this Volunteers’ Week?
Thanks. Maybe I should wax lyrical a bit more than that. But essentially that’s it: a huge thank you for all that you do, the place couldn’t be what it is without you. And ultimately, the thanks from the members matters more than anything I can say – and I’m sure they show that every time our volunteers are here.
If you are interested in volunteering with us here at Sheffield Mencap & Gateway then we’d love to hear from you! Just get in touch with Jonathan by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.