"Volunteering is not just beneficial to the volunteer, it’s also very beneficial for us as an organisation"

Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteering is a key part of Southdown’s Client Involvement Strategy. Roles can be anything from meeting and greeting clients in a Wellbeing Centre, providing one-to-one client support, leading a group, to being involved in a project. My responsibility is to help teams identify appropriate and meaningful opportunities and roles for client volunteers.

Hi, I’m Mel, Southdown’s Volunteer Coordinator. 

My role is to support all our teams with identifying volunteer opportunities, the recruitment and recognition of client volunteers, and their on-going support. I’m the central point of contact for volunteering so there’s consistency for all volunteering across Southdown.

I started this job in February 2019 and it’s been really busy! I began working with the East Sussex Community Network and the Wellbeing Centres and have continued to work with the other Community Support Services (CSS) gaining an oversight of the existing volunteers they have within their teams. I’ve really enjoyed it. Everyone has been really welcoming. 

Although my role is currently focused on our Community Support Services division, after the initial review period I will be working closely with colleagues in our Learning Disability, Housing and Organisational Support Services divisions, to potentially extend the project further into their teams.

I’ve also been finalising the CSS volunteer process, policy and paperwork ready to be launched on Monday 3 June.

There’s a lot of good practice out there and my role is to bring all of it together. Good practice is supporting our client volunteers and recognising their needs. Some volunteers want to develop their skills and knowledge, some want the experience for work and training, others for confidence and social inclusion and some volunteers wish to give something back to Southdown and their communities.

Southdown values its volunteers. Our aim is to keep volunteers motivated, involved, and to support their personal development. Southdown defines a ‘volunteer’ as an individual who volunteers their free time to others outside the family, unpaid and with no financial gain, and of their own free choice.

Volunteering is not just beneficial to the volunteer, it’s also very beneficial for us as an organisation. Our client volunteers are very valuable. They bring enthusiasm, diversity, and a different perspective. They are passionate, skilled, and can bring their own lived experience. We learn from them and they can feed back to us what the community wants.

Volunteering is a key part of Southdown’s Client Involvement Strategy. Roles can be anything from meeting and greeting clients in a Wellbeing Centre, providing one-to-one client support, leading a group, to being involved in a project. My responsibility is to help teams identify appropriate and meaningful opportunities and roles for client volunteers.

Volunteers and organisations both benefit from volunteers. They complement the work that’s already happening, supporting an organisation, not replacing a paid-for role.

Every day is different and I enjoy and find my role very rewarding. I’m very organised, practical, and solution-focused. I want to remove barriers for clients and client volunteers and will find ways around them, exploring other options.

I’m proud that in my short time here I’ve revised our Volunteer Policy, finalised the new process and paperwork pack, and met everyone in the Community Support Services. I’m looking forward to the launch which will be the foundation for moving forward and now I’m looking at developing training and induction days.

I’m passionate about volunteers – and in my career I have worked and supported them for ten years. I love it because it’s about people! People volunteer for so many reasons and you see them go on a journey. There are challenges, but there are challenges in everything.

I took my first steps in volunteering when I worked in human resources and became aware of the Prince’s Trust. I became a Volunteer Mentor for them and this led me to the community and voluntary sector. I then became a paid member of the Prince’s Trust as the Volunteer Coordinator in Sussex where I managed 200 volunteers who mentored young people in Sussex.

Following that I worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Leaving Prison Programme for Lewes, Ford, and Rochester prisons. Most of the volunteers were ex-offenders who helped mentor 18-30 year olds.

I then worked for The Fed, now called Possability People, where I managed the internal volunteer programme which then led me to Southdown and here I am!