To mark Volunteers Week, we spoke to some of our amazing volunteers across Phoenix and asked them about their experiences of volunteering with us.
Interview with Andy Volunteer at the Scottish Residential
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into volunteering?
I started helping out and supporting at the residential when I was living in re-entry housing after completing the residential service. That was August 2018 – since that time I have moved into my own place and continued to offer support 3/4days per week.
What do you enjoy about volunteering at Phoenix?
I love volunteering as it helps me to put everything I’ve learned into perspective and I can now pass on that learning to help others. It keeps me busy and focused. Throughout my time I have learnt so much and I’ve undertaken lots of training to help me develop skills for employment such as confidence, how to interact, the importance of asking for help if I need it, professional boundaries etc. I have much more confidence in my own ability, so now I keep pushing forward.
Has volunteering with Phoenix created any other opportunities for you?
Yes, earlier this year I passed the interview to enter employment with Phoenix as a Sessional Worker. Over the last few months I have been keeping busy with sessional work at the residential– it’s important to me to be able to stay structured and assist others with coping in isolation at this time. I am trained in PPE use so I can help others who may need to isolate whilst also social distancing.
What have you learnt being in this role?
I have undertaken facilitation training, medication training and now I’m more comfortable to use I.T… I used to be terrified of computers, but now I help set up the online social club groups. I am now also a qualified Yoga leader after gaining my Yoga 12 Step Recovery Leader qualification – I like that Phoenix has given me the choice to pursue opportunities that I enjoy and now I deliver Yoga across the residential and North Lanarkshire services, and will soon be starting my SVQ3 in Health and Social Care. Hopefully Phoenix will be recruiting for a Trainee Recovery Worker position soon… fingers crossed I get it! It would be amazing!
Donatella's Story - Volunteering at Phoenix Scotland
I started in Phoenix Futures Scottish Residential as a masters student in placement on December 2019. Because of coronavirus emergency I had to interrupt my placement, but I didn’t want to leave the work I was doing with SUs.
For this reason I started my volunteering work on March 2020 – this was an amazing chance to get to know the community processes and to facilitate groups with community members.
This allowed me to understand the SUs needs and passions and how to best work with those as a way to create individual paths out of addiction.
The volunteering work I have done in Phoenix also led me to a new role position as Sessional Worker – this shows how Phoenix give you the chance to learn and grow.
Thank you for that.
An interview with Salma - returning to work after raising children
How did you get into volunteering?
I took a break from working when I had children, during this time office work had changed a lot due to new technology, etc. so I needed to get training before going back into full time work. I really wanted to go back into an office environment as I really enjoyed the admin side of things but I needed to get experience so when I came across Phoenix Futures advert for a Volunteer HR Support, I thought I’d apply and see what happens, and here I am, continuing to work for Phoenix Futures 4 years later.
Was there anything in particular that made you choose Phoenix to get this work experience you needed?
I planned to get proper work experience in HR or admin and when I saw the Phoenix Futures advert I thought it was a good opportunity. Charities are the best kind of companies to volunteer for and it was the best time for me to get into it. I thought that this role at Phoenix could potentially lead onto something else within the company. I wasn’t 100% sure I would get the place, when they picked me I was really chuffed and happy as it had been a while since I worked in an office. I was coming back to work after bringing up children for around a decade, so it felt like I was starting all over again.
What skills/qualification/learning do you think you have gained?
When I first started, I received experience working with modern technology. All the staff I worked with were so nice and professional, they taught me how to use Agresso (finance and HR system), send out professional emails, organise contracts, how to use excel etc. It helped to get the job I am currently doing, I still continue to use the skills I learnt whilst volunteering in HR.
It sounds like this role helped open some doors for you, what opportunities have you had as a result of volunteering at Phoenix?
I was doing 2 days a week working for HR, when some staff left they were short of staff, so the Head of HR at the time asked if I wanted to work 3 days a week on a sessional basis for 5/6 months. I then applied to work as a HR apprentice which I got and worked for around 18 months. Once I completed the apprenticeship I was offered a full-time job as a HR administrator. At the same time, I went for the job to be Karen’s (the Chief Executives) administrator, where it was agreed that I would work 2 days in HR and 3 days as Karen’s administrator. In January I made the decision go part time and just focus on my role as Karen’s administrator. Volunteering with HR and the experience I gained from it enabled me to get a job working for Phoenix’s Chief Executive, I am really grateful to Phoenix.
Della's Story - It is possible for a Leopard to change its spots!
I’ve made some really bad choices during my 56 years on this planet. But I would like you to take the time to read on to hear how I have turned my life around.
I am an Alcoholic in long term recovery and turned a corner when I received the understanding and experience/knowledge from various staff and volunteers at Phoenix Futures.
I had been hospitalised for 3 weeks near to death through years of alcohol abuse when a member of the Team from Phoenix left their business card with me whilst doing their rounds on the ward.
At first, I thought I could manage my sobriety myself, but soon realised I did need help and empathy (not sympathy) and didn’t have the tools or knowledge to go it alone.
With the help and advice from these people while attending group meetings and completing a 9-week non-residential rehab at ‘Sharp’ in Braintree (as recommended by Phoenix) I have been able to move forward with nearly 2 years sobriety behind me.
When the ‘fog’ finally lifted I wanted to learn more about ‘me’ and how I have been able to conquer my mess. This sounds selfish I know, but by working on me it not only gives me structure in my life but it also enables me to pass on what I know to others. After all, being heard and understood can make all the difference.
This is why I am now taking a totally different path in life by Volunteering with Futures in Mind. I am Befriending, Co-facilitating The Life Course and also Weekly Alcohol Groups. I have also put myself forward for a bit of Admin if needed.
Also, every couple of months I am asked to do a recovery talk at the rehab centre.
I have also developed a fondness for any courses available through the Company- just happy to keep learning!
I have now changed my self-pity surrounding the events of my life into self-worth because not only do I really enjoy my volunteering work but it really does make you feel valued.
I am very happy and proud to say I am a Volunteer!! Or, (I’ve changed my Spots!!)
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VOLUNTEERS AT PHOENIX FUTURES
It gives me great pleasure during National Volunteers Week to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers engaged in a wide range of front-line and back-office services in support of our charity. During their visits to services and Head-office, the Board of Trustees never fail to be impressed by the quality and commitment levels of our volunteers. Your empathy, passion, and determination are clear for all to see, and this translates into the very best possible care for our service users.
On behalf of the Trustee Board and the many vulnerable people who have and will continue to benefit from your generosity, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.
Dr Susan Kinnaird
Chair of Phoenix Futures Board