As part of Volunteers Week, we wanted to highlight the work of our fabulous Volunteer Services Coordinators, Zoe Thomas for South Wales and Rachel Twiss for North Wales.
Here, Zoe tells us all about the role, what her and Rachel could be doing on a day to day basis, and how they work with volunteers.
What is your role at Macmillan and what do you do?
I’m the Volunteering Services Coordinator for South Wales and am currently focusing on the Carmarthenshire Support Buddies Service. I recruit, train and support volunteers, who in turn support people affected by cancer all across Carmarthenshire. Our Buddy volunteers provide 2/3 hours (per week) of practical or emotional support to people in their own homes/communities e.g. having a cup of tea and a chat, doing some light housework, shopping or providing occasional lifts to appointments.
How do you support volunteers
All our volunteers receive training, guidance and support from Macmillan staff throughout their role so there is always someone to contact and run a query by. We also have a learning and development programme to extend volunteer’s knowledge and training, connect with different services and organisations to learn more about what they can provide, and also have get-togethers for peer support and a greater sense of team – quite often this involves homemade cake, which is always a bonus! 😊
What do you enjoy most about working with volunteers?
I began my role in May 2017 and have met so many wonderful people during that time, who all give up their time for free to support others in their community. It really inspires me and keeps my faith in human kindness. Having spoken with a large number of our service users (i.e. those we support), I’ve also heard first-hand just how much it means to them, and how much they appreciate our volunteer’s time and support. Being a volunteer myself for a different organisation, I understand the time commitment and dedication needed but also the good feeling you get from helping others.
What is your favourite thing about working for Macmillan?
The feeling that I’m part of an organisation that helps others. I won’t always meet the people referred to us but know that I’m part of a wider team that makes life a little easier for someone going through a cancer diagnosis, treatment and/or dealing with the effect of it on their daily lives. ‘Simple’ everyday tasks can become difficult to tackle and having someone to tidy up may boost your sense of well-being.
Our support means that not only the person themselves has support but their family and friends benefit too, as knowing that a volunteer will be there for a couple of hours a week, can really help to ease stress or anxiety and give them a break. All ‘round, Macmillan is doing a fantastic job to support people affected by cancer, whether it’s face-to-face or in the background and I’m proud to be part of that Team.
Anything you’d like to add?
If you have some spare time in your week (2/3 hours) and think you could use it to support others, get in touch with your local Macmillan Volunteering Teams. There are volunteering opportunities in all corners of the UK, which you can access by logging on to www.macmillan.org.uk and choosing the Get Involved or In My Area links at the top. You could fundraise, organise/attend events and cheerlead, complete a challenge, become an e-campaigner or join us in the Volunteering Services Team and provide practical and/or emotional help to someone in your area.
What would you say to someone interested in volunteering for Macmillan in Wales?
I think the last word needs to come from one of our long-standing Buddy Volunteers, who simply says “If you have a couple of hours to spare, you can make such a difference to someone’s life but you’ll also be surprised, how much you’ll get out of it too.”