Thornbury Volunteer Centre AIM AND MISSION The volunteer development agency for Thornbury and district aims to promote, support and develop volunteering by providing a service which matches volunteers with organisations that need voluntary help; and by providing training, advice and support. STRATEGIC PRIORITIES Working in partnership across South Gloucestershire to promote and develop volunteering to improve community cohesion improve health and well being improve skills and learning WEBSITE AND CONTACTS https://volunteer-thornbury.co.uk/ tel. 01454 413392 email. [email protected] CASE STUDIES Michelle Finds Support Michelle suffered domestic abuse throughout her marriage and managed to escape with the help of the charity Survive and the Women’s Refuge service. Michelle was left me with severe depression and a complete lack of confidence which meant she was unable to work for the past two years. Michelle has gained confidence and is now looking for part-time work after a volunteer placement organised by Thornbury Volunteer Centre at Essilor Ltd. "At the beginning of 2017 I visited the Volunteer Centre and came away with a list of opportunities that I thought I might be interested in. But afterwards I had panic attacks at the idea of trying. The Centre Development Co-ordinator followed up a few weeks later and I explained my predicament. She told me about a volunteering placement scheme they were running in conjunction with Essilor Ltd. This would allow me to volunteer at the company for 35 hours over a period of time to suit myself. Essilor staff had been trained to act as mentors to support volunteers like myself throughout their placement. With the encouragement of everyone involved I decided to try the scheme and went along for a two- hour trial. I was very, very nervous and panicking massively and almost didn’t turn up but part of me realised that I needed to do this for myself. I shadowed June in the customer care department, saw what she did, what her team did and found out how the company worked. Halfway through the morning I had a funny five minutes but June reassured me, checked that I was OK to carry on and with her support I stayed for the full two hours. As each week went by my confidence grew and my ability to work increased. Meeting and working with new people also helped my confidence enormously. Though this placement made me realise I wasn’t ready to start looking for a full-time job, by the end of my 35 hours I felt ready to look for part-time employment. I cannot thank the staff at Essilor enough for the help, encouragement and support they have given me. I feel like a different person now to the one I was just six months ago. Since finishing I have applied for a couple of part-time jobs and I am hopeful that something will turn up soon". Castle in the Community, Student Volunteering Scheme Having just started its sixth year the Castle in the Community student volunteering scheme between Thornbury Volunteer Centre and the Castle School Sixth Form is growing in strength and success. The scheme encourages Year 13 pupils into volunteering as part of their Extended Curriculum and helps students volunteer in their local community for two hours, once a week, during term time. The scheme aims to enable young people to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The goal of this part of the curriculum is to develop student capacities such as resourcefulness, confidence, enthusiasm, participation, engagement, awareness and achievement. Students are placed within different community organisations in the Thornbury and district area, and carry out a wide variety of tasks, from shop work to befriending, marketing to fundraising, gardening to maintenance work, from supporting children and adults with disabilities to maintaining our heritage. The benefits to students and organisations are immense. The students gain valuable work experience and life skills and the organisations increase capacity and gain additional volunteer help. The awareness of the work carried out by the Volunteer Centre is enhanced and Castle School’s links with the local community are strengthened. Many of the students who have participated in the scheme over the past five years are continuing to cite their experiences on their CVs and they all feel that this experience has been invaluable in helping them to progress their further education and career choices.