Volunteering at Dorset Advocacy

You might say “I don’t have time to volunteer” – this is probably exactly what I would say if I wasn’t already volunteering with Dorset Advocacy.  I work full-time and have a busy life and I am so glad that I came to this part of my life, volunteering, when I did.  Still (reasonably) fresh-faced, working part-time for the NHS in Patient Experience and studying with the Open University for a degree in Psychology, I started volunteering 5 years ago, on the Appropriate Adult project.  

As a Phone Coordinator, I take referrals from Dorset Police outside office hours for adults who need support with understanding and communicating while they are detained in custody.  Although it’s different in many ways from other Advocacy, the core principles of supporting vulnerable people to be heard and ensuring their rights are upheld are the same.  I love the variety of the role: talking to the police, using the DA database to record all the referrals and volunteers’ attendance, but most of all, the sense of community.  In the five years I’ve been a Phone Coordinator, volunteers have come and bought new skills and experiences and some been with the project since the start.  I am lucky to have met some inspirational people, share experiences and ideas through volunteer get-togethers and meetings and feel I really lucky to be able to call some my friends.  

For a year or so I was also an advocate for a woman with learning difficulties.  Whether on the Appropriate Adult project or traditional advocacy, the difference advocacy makes is so palpable and therefore, so rewarding.  I know I am contributing to helping people lead fulfilling lives and supporting them to overcome the challenges that too often stand in their way.  Advocacy partnerships provide opportunities, to identify when people need extra support, when they’re in danger of slipping through the net and providing individuals with the tools and encouragement to speak up for what is important, what matters, to them.  And for me Dorset Advocacy, and the numerous ways in which it provides support to people with diverse needs, in turn gives me flexibility to work on projects that, not only capture my imagination and use and build on my skills and experience, but also that fits in with the other aspects of my life.  

Volunteering at Dorset Advocacy will foster your confidence, bring opportunities to get involved, become part of a friendly, tight and committed volunteer community and really make a difference to people’s lives!

Article by Izzy, volunteer