Jess from Volunteer Centre Greenwich talks about her Vision for Volunteering journey

OK, great. Thanks. Um hi, Jess. Could you just start by introducing yourself? Hi, Sarah

Sure. I'm Jess Young, and I'm currently freelancing for the volunteer Centre. Greenwich and, Yeah, run their coms and doing various projects around inclusion into volunteering

Um, thank you. Can you, um, just talk a little bit about how you kind of started your vision for volunteering? Journey? Sure. So, um, so I've been following getin on social media for years

Uh, I used to run, uh, a volunteer team for a national organisation engaged for success. And that's how I got involved in the work that Gethan was doing. And then he started posting and sharing about this vision

And it was that time that I took on a role running a project for a volunteer centre, Greenwich around people with learning disabilities, and it looked really exciting. It looked like something that, you know, I felt the sector needed. We needed to do more around, um, particularly equality, diversity and inclusion

And the vision looked like it was gonna help us create a You know, it was really kind of create a sort of driving force behind some of the work that you know lots of colleagues are doing in this space. Awesome. Was there anything that kind of particularly stood out to you around what the vision for volunteering was doing? Ah, the experimentation, Paella

So, you know, I've I have my backgrounds in HR. I've seen so many kind of corporate strategy documents, and so often they're very kind of mission purpose, you know, focused. And that's great to energise people and get some kind of win behind, you know, people

But I think one of the challenges is always how we translate that into practical action. And, uh, I went along to the experimentation conference, uh, earlier this week, and it's exciting. It's exciting to see all these wonderful examples that are happening around how we're thinking about volunteering differently, how we're engaging different parts of our community and volunteering and how we're really getting creative around this, and it's it's exciting

It feels really exciting. It feels dynamic, awesome. So, speaking of kind of translating, um, provision into action

Um, so you went to one of our community reporting training sessions? Um, last month or the month before. Um, can you just talk a little bit about how, uh what you've kind of done off the back of that training. What? What you you plan to to do to take action over the next next year or so? Yeah

So, um, that opportunity popped up to do a little bit of work with you, Sarah, and learning about how we can facilitate people to tell stories. And this is something I think London lifelines have been doing really well over the past kind of 12 months or so, and I think there's such such value. There's huge power in getting people's stories out there

And I think for me personally at the Volunteer Centre in Greenwich, we're really, really keen to see more stories about where perhaps it's a wee bit tricky where perhaps people are experiencing barriers into volunteering. And so, uh, we got a chunk of money a couple of months ago from Deloitte and cast a digital charity, and at the moment we're doing a lot of work with people with lived experience of mental health around some of the things practically that they're experiencing in terms of accessing, volunteering. And I think being able to tell some of those stories and get that out into the public is going to be really, really powerful for helping others think about how we create safe spaces for people through that whole volunteer journey

So, yeah, it's, um you know, it's a really great skill to have, and I'm keen to share it with colleagues. I'm keen to sort of, you know, philtre it down. I think that was one of the pleas you had Sarah to us was, you know, here's the toolkit, you know, Here's the zip file of of sort of training resources, you know, cascade it out through your communities and sort of get get more people telling more stories because, you know, just I've done eight in depth interviews with people who lived experience of mental health, and I have just learned so much about what that's like on a very, very, very practical level

Um, when people right from the get go, when they start thinking about even offering up their time to help a community organisation right through to having to leave for periods of ill health and everything in between Yeah, yeah, I think that that kind of lived experience storytelling is so vital to that. That vision for volunteering theme of of equity and inclusion and and making sure that volunteering is kind of open to lo lots of different people, kind and not, you know, regardless of what their background is or what their kind of previous experience is. And you know, one of the things I'm experiencing through these interviews is you know, people are desperate

They they want to tell their story. You know, Um, often, you know, it's it's complicated, there's heartache, there's there's pain, there's joy. There's hope, you know, like it's a whole you know, sort of

Yeah, it's, you know, really, really rich experiences that people are sharing with me. And yeah, we just We now need to think sort of sensitively about how we support people to, you know, share this out for other audiences. But a lot of people are motivated, you know, by having this opportunity that this isn't necessarily just something that we're doing in Greenwich, and you know we'll learn from in Greenwich

But this opportunity to put it onto the community reporting platform. So it's available, you know, across the country, for people to to learn from, uh, I think is is amazing. I think it's really clever to sort of feed it up into a national national platform

Yeah, I love that touching on some of the themes of, um, collaboration and, you know, taking what you've learned and sharing it with anyone else, you might find it helpful across across the country trying to kind of do a similar similar thing to you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. None of this stuff is you know, we're isolated in Greenwich

It's air issue alone. I mean this, you know, this stuff is yeah, people are experiencing everywhere. I love that

Thank you. Um, just thinking then about the vision for volunteering. Um, so it's, you know, you you've talked about how it's kind of inspired you

And there was obviously this this training that you went to that you found really helpful. Is there anything kind of looking to the future that you think the vision for volunteering could help you with with with this particular project or with any other projects that you might want to do in the future? Yeah. So I'm you know, I'm really excited about that space for experimentation

Um, and how we just get more visibility on what all of us are doing across the country and start sharing and and learning from each other. And I think having a platform like the vision suddenly in that I mean, I don't know, I've I've only been back in the sector for a couple of years. Maybe these things are already around Sarah, and I just I haven't kind of hooked into them, but it strikes me that this is one of the few places where I could, you know, as someone who's sort of activating on the ground, I could post things

I could tag the vision. I could share videos into community reporting, you know, maybe even write blogs on the website, and it feels very accessible for me to get sort of the message out about what we're doing. Um And then, you know, I sort of was saying to people, actually, the experimentation workshop, Wouldn't it be great if, you know, there was a space where all of us who are sort of experimenting and we're kind of coming up against lots of brick walls because I think one of the themes that came out from that was that there's a lot of sort of How do you get over this hurdle of people pushing back and no, no, we've never done that before

And, you know, we'll stick to kind of tried and true methods. And so I think this sort of opportunity for us to come together and and share frustrations and share you know how we've each done it in our own charities is really powerful as well, so I don't know. Yeah

Hopefully, in the future, there'll be There'll be opportunities to do that. Um, I did just sign up, actually, to be a community champion, sort of in the hope that, you know, um, yeah, we we can sort of hear, you know, top down, but, you know, also bottom up as well. Yes

Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you want to add at the end? No, I think, yeah. I'm feeling even more excited

Sarah having this conversation? Amazing. Great. Um, then thank you very much for your time

Brilliant. Thanks, Sarah.

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