153 Volunteers across Ceredigion, Wrexham – Conwy - Denbighshire (WCD) Young Carers and Powys with new volunteers joining every month!
Credu has ripped up the rulebook with recruiting Volunteers and we don’t necessarily advertise for specific job roles, apart from roles in our Charity Shops.
We are interested in what people are passionate about, what they want to give and the difference they want to make.
The result is a growing and diverse community of support of all ages. It is very exciting and continually evolving as good listeners lend an ear to those who need to talk, authors give time to creative writing classes for carers, Carers develop in-depth peer support around specific conditions such as autism, dancers give dance sessions, yoga teachers give yoga sessions, drivers offer transport, crafters give crafting tips.
The relationship can start with a conversation with their Outreach Worker who recognises a particular skill or experience; it can start at a training event or other Credu-led event which inspires the Carer to think about creating a role for themselves; it can start with an email enquiry from our website or social media post and this leads to a conversation.
Our form has been pared back to focus on a one-page profile which gives the individual a chance to tell us about themselves. We talk about how they would like to get involved and whether their role might include needing a DBS to support children or vulnerable adults. We ask for two references from people who have known you professionally and personally for over 3 years.
So what difference has this made?
More people than ever have come forward to support Adult Carers, families and Young Carers which in turn has meant Credu can be more ambitious, put on more events and activities and offer expertise and experience on a broader range of subjects, diagnoses and situations.
Our Volunteer Carers have found a new way to engage with us and have learnt more about the breadth of support we can offer. They are wonderful ambassadors for friends who care and increase our reach beyond Facebook, email or text, which has widened with communicating out more broadly in personal invites and endorsements for the things we do.
Volunteers are able to support in a way that fits them, their time restrictions and their strengths. At a recent ASD Peer supporter training one Volunteer wanted to support families and children through trips/family days, one Volunteer wanted to offer support 1:1 with forms, letters and organisation skills and the other wanted to use the training to embed in her day job as a housing officer and access Credu events as a ‘Volunteer’ rather than as a ‘Carer’ which she would struggle with.
Ystradgynlais Adult Volunteers have inspired a movement! Volunteer Carers have taken the lead on a Thursday Club, a social space for Carers and their Cared fors to meet, socialise and chat.
Kuldip joined us as a Volunteer at the Credu Big Weekend. He brought a toolkit, lighting and so much energy. Since the weekend we applied for a DBS and he has helped out on a Young Carers Circus Day, a Christmas theatre show for families and has been a handy man in the Welshpool area for families struggling with flat pack furniture and small DIY tasks.
In Wrexham, a previous Young carer joined the team as a Volunteer whilst studying for a degree in Youth and Community. She was such an asset that she has been offered part-time work but she delivers above and beyond her paid hours as a Peer Mentor, helps out at young carers events and even travelled down to the Big Weekend to join the wider Credu team.
In Ceredigion, a bereaved former Carer wanted to support others. We issued her with a mobile phone and she has kept in touch with two other Carers facing the end of life for their partners. She has now been the first person in Ceredigion to set up as a community micro-enterprise and will be a real asset to Carers on direct payments looking for sitting support.
A Volunteer Carer has found self-confidence, aspiration and energy in a recent trip to London where she was part of a team supporting Young Adult Carers.
How do we give Volunteers a good beginning?
We have been able to offer 29 Volunteers Collaborative Communication training who were interested in supporting individuals and families. We have offered 16 YAC Volunteers Peer support training in WCD for those wanting to support our groups, trips and individual younger carers. We have offered 15 Volunteers ASD Peer supporter training. These individuals are interested in supporting other families with navigating confusing systems when they are faced with a diagnosis or even pre-diagnosis for Autism.
We offer out training provided by the local Volunteer bureaus in First Aid, MH or other interesting courses and generally try and appropriately share our training programmes for staff with Volunteers.
Volunteers are invited to start slowly and grow into the best fit role for them with locally based Outreach teams and more generic online offers.
Collaborative Communication Training Feedback
‘I feel I have learnt a lot- both about myself and how I relate to people’
‘I found the training invaluable, a completely different effective way of thinking and talking to people’
‘Brilliant training- very informative and will definitely help me every day!’
This project funded by Reaching Wider Mid and North Wales has allowed space for life-coaching style conversations with Carers. Many have found engaging as Volunteers an obvious first step and working with an organisation that is open to experimenting with new ideas and allowing flexibility has allowed them safe stepping stones forward.
A 4-week online well-being programme was offered to 10 Adult Carers from all parts of Credu and a YAC programme is now running for an additional 10 YACs. The course gave a taster of mindfulness, meditation, journaling, yoga, reflexology and tapping as toolkits to use in self-development and coping with anxiety.
The project continues until the end of July.
A Voice for You
‘A Voice for You’ was a small charity in Montgomeryshire, Powys that had run for many years providing advocacy for people with a learning disability. The Volunteers were joined with ‘partners’ and would connect with them regularly, often over many years. The relationship was sometimes simply that of a friendship, an independent addition to their family or sometimes quite literally a voice at meetings or on things that matter to their partner.
A lack of funding meant that the charity was being forced to dissolve and with assets in their bank and 10 willing Volunteers still wanting to be supported themselves with training, information and connection to others who are doing a similar role, they spoke to Credu. We felt very aligned to their purpose and principles and understand the benefits of long term relationships and that those closest to their cared fors are the experts in what supports them having a fulfilling life. The Volunteers were taking on an unpaid Caring role and so we welcomed them to join Credu with all of their experience and kindness.
The Volunteers are re-establishing themselves as a group so we are unfortunately not taking any new referrals currently to support additional partners but we hope in time that the project can grow.
‘I just wanted to thank you for the meeting on Wednesday. I don’t know why AVFY never set up anything like it (not within my time, anyway), but all credit to you and Credu for doing so. I think everyone got a lot out of it.’
‘Really enjoying being part of CREDU... I feel we are being cuddled in a beautiful space. Thank you for everything.’