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The value of volunteers

Milestones Trust volunteer swimming buddy Rachel Jones

A Bristol-based social care provider and charity is calling on people in the city to take action and donate their time and skills to support vulnerable people in their local community.

The ask comes from the new volunteer coordinator at Milestones Trust to highlight the wealth of opportunities for support that are available at the charity.

Sarah Turrill, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Milestones Trust

Sara Turrill has recently joined Milestones Trust after working with volunteers for over five years for charities such as The National Trust, Avon Wildlife Trust and most recently, Alive Activities. She has also been a volunteer herself on various projects, including as a volunteer gardening facilitator in care homes for older people.

“I am very excited about working for Milestones Trust, says Sarah,

“It’s an organisation whose values I really support and its work in care homes and in the community is so important.

“Individual volunteers are key to our work, as they can really support our service users to live fulfilling lives by befriending and supporting them with activities and trips, increasing their social interaction with new people from the community. In addition to our residential homes, we have a wealth of exciting community projects, such as Warmley Wheelers accessible cycling project, art groups and activity day centres.”

Rachel Jones volunteers as a swimming buddy with Milestones Trust, where she helps Paul who has severe anxiety and autism. A keen open water swimmer herself, she initially swam with him but now encourages him to swim independently.

“I really love swimming and believe it can play an important role in helping people with their mental health,” says Rachel.

“It’s so satisfying to see how much comfort Paul gets out of swimming – the difference between how he is before he gets in the water and afterwards is amazing; he’s so much calmer and more relaxed.

“Milestones Trust have been great and provide on-going training and support, so I feel confident working with Paul and I now have practical skills in knowing how to deal with situations he could find challenging. They’ve also been very flexible with me, understanding that it’s not always possible for me to commit to doing this every week, which has encouraged me to continue.

“I wanted to work with a local charity, and I’ve been so impressed with the whole team at Milestones Trust. They way they’ve supported Paul has really helped improve his quality of life and I get great satisfaction from knowing I’ve contributed to that.”

Milestones Trust has a long history of working with volunteers and now has a busy programme of over 50 individual volunteers and 50 groups of corporate volunteers per year.

“We welcome groups of corporate volunteers, who give their time to our care homes and supported living by leading on practical projects that we wouldn’t otherwise have the capacity to do, such as painting, decorating and gardening,” explains Sara. “We have also recently introduced a new initiative for corporate volunteers to support our staff on training including IT skills and inclusion and diversity, which has been hugely successful and beneficial.”

And diversity is certainly high on the volunteering agenda at Milestones Trust.

“The message is that there is something for everyone,” says Sarah.

“From Zumba buddy, photographer, art therapy support, bike maintenance, swimming buddy, games buddy, and many more roles, there are a lot of opportunities.  We provide training for volunteers and we are reaching out to people who are looking to work in a new role and people looking to do something different with their spare time. We really champion volunteering throughout the organisation and will be having some social events for our volunteers to help attract more new interest.

“Through my own volunteering, I’ve got a great deal of satisfaction from supporting people to learn new skills and embrace challenges and the positive feeling that I’m able to contribute to my local community and give something back. If you’ve got a skill or some time you could share, we’d love to hear from you.”

 

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