As part of my role as volunteer centre coordinator I hold monthly drop in sessions in Filton library, Bradley Stoke Library and The Old School Rooms in Stoke Gifford.
During a Filton Drop-in session, I was visited by a young lady with her support worker. Sam has mild learning difficulties and hearing difficulties. She currently volunteers one day a week in the back room of a local charity shop but would like to do some other volunteering to help expand her skills. Sam says that once she has been trained she picks up new things fairly quickly. Due to her hearing Sam needs a quiet environment as too much noise interferes with her hearing aids. Sam also prefers minimal contact with the general public. We discussed some of the volunteering options available that might suit her needs. Sam’s support worker suggested that shelf stacking at the library might be a good volunteering opportunity for Sam. I spoke to the library supervisor who spoke to her manager, about whether they could accommodate and support Sam. They agreed that they could and the supervisor came out and talked to Sam with her support worker and myself present. They agreed the task Sam would do whilst volunteering, the day and time she would volunteer and the fact that her support worker would be present to support her (at least to begin with).
Sam has now been volunteering for a couple of months and during my drop in session this month Sam has shared with me one of the ways the library has supported her. To help Sam with putting fiction books away they have added a laminated alphabet to her volunteers ID lanyard. This helps Sam when putting away books with similar author names. Sam is really positive about her volunteering post at the library, and says she has fun.
This demonstrates how small changes can make a big difference when supporting volunteers with additional needs.