For over thirty years BHT has engaged volunteers in service delivery. Initially volunteers were essential for basic service delivery (for example, a now defunct soup run, and cooking meals in our day centre). This has given way to volunteers adding value to service delivery, providing additional support and services to clients.
When taking on volunteers, we prioritise men and women who have used our services and who are in particular need for experience to prepare them for paid work. It is unfortunate but this usually means we don’t normally have capacity to take on other volunteers, no matter how skilled and motivated they may be.
Examples of volunteering successes in BHT in recent times include:
- Detox Support Project: 12 volunteers at any one time who provide additional out of hours support to clients undergoing an ambulatory detox (The volunteering programme at the Detox project was recognised through the Nationwide Award for Voluntary Endeavour, Regional Winner, 2007);
- Peer2Peer: an innovative peer support project (run in partnership with Southdown Housing Association) which trains and supports existing and ex-users of services as Peer Support Volunteers, to provide support to vulnerable people, based on their own unique experience as clients themselves (Peer2Peer one of the top 5 projects in the South of England in the Mentoring & Befriending Awards 2010);
- Private Rented Sector Initiatives: 10 volunteers at any one time who are trained to provide reception and support to clients in housing need and who are seeking accommodation in the private rented sector;
- Accommodation for Work Project: a volunteer with a history of homelessness was given responsibility for a redecorating programme for a residential project; provided with health and safety supervision; the volunteer secured paid employment in registered care home;
- The Consultancy: where volunteers made up of current and former clients assist in a range of activities including health and safety, staff recruitment, and training, as well as the production of BHT’s magazine, ‘Express’;
- Dine!: external catering social enterprise staffed primarily by volunteers who are trained and who receive formal qualifications in food handling, hygiene, etc. (Dine! Was one of four national winners of the Spark! Challenge 2008);
Other volunteering roles exist in BHT’s care homes and support projects. BHT has been particularly successful in engaging former clients in volunteering as a means of preparing them for paid employment. Feedback from current clients is extremely positive who see the use of former clients as providing them with aspirational examples of what is possible for them.
Volunteers in BHT are police checked, where appropriate, and receive a full induction and ongoing training. Our volunteering philosophy is based on the premise that volunteering should produce a win-win-win outcome: for current clients who receive an enhanced service; for volunteers who engage in meaningful activity and progression to employment, if appropriate; and BHT itself whose services and reputation are enhanced through volunteering outcomes.