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A fair approach

A fair approach

Today for Volunteers’ Week 2020 we look at how Adullam’s Sheffield Foundations project, which provides floating support to people who have mental health issues alongside housing needs, works with the universities in the city to find people to help support its work.

Sheffield Foundations primarily recruits through volunteer fairs run by Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield and Voluntary Action Sheffield. There are roughly three or four a year and they have provided the project with students and members of the public who have worked successfully with our clients. 

Initially those interested are asked to leave an email address so Nick Etherington, who is Adullam’s Learning & Development Coordinator in Sheffield, can get back to them to invite them to an informal afternoon where he takes them through who Adullam is, who we help, how we do that, how they can help us, what training they will get, how they will be supported and what experience they will gain.After this they are given an application pack, asked to fill it in and then they often attend an informal interview. If both parties think that volunteering with Foundations would be a good fit, the application goes off to HR.

Volunteers are provided with training around Adullam’s policies such as confidentiality, conflicts of interest, safeguarding and employee conduct. They then have a meeting with the Operational Manager to discuss their role and sign a volunteer’s agreement.

The final step is to sort out a DBS certificate for them through HR and then they can start.

Nick says: “We have had volunteers work in art groups, craft groups, on all our exhibitions, employability skills groups, mindfulness groups, walking groups & trips to pantos.....in short, all sorts. 

“We have had volunteers help us with coffee mornings or help us arrange lunches with clients in ‘pay as you feel’ community cafes. Some have also worked with individual clients on a one-to-one basis after working in groups with them.

“We also offer 70-day placements to Sheffield Hallam University for Social Work BA and MA courses and I have completed the university’s training programme. This means I am registered to be the onsite supervisor and work alongside a practice educator to ensure that the 70 days are meaningfully structured and that the tasks the students are being asked to do cover all nine domains of the social work curriculum.

“We are also starting to run 10-day experiential course for students on the BA course. We were due two in April and a 70-day placement in May, but these have been put back to September/October. We get paid for the placements and the money generated is put into our project welfare fund. So far we have had five placements throughout our time as a service.

“Our current volunteers are Jane Curry, Peter Fleischmann and Supatra Chowdhury. They are all excellent. Jane is a trained counsellor and she gives (or did before the lockdown) her time one afternoon a week to work with our clients. She has volunteered with us for nearly four years and has worked with many clients – with wonderful outcomes. She is a very valued member of the team.

“Peter has been with us for over 18 months and has worked so hard on the art groups/art exhibitions we run. Supatra only joined in January, but has worked in art groups, coffee afternoons, art gallery visits and trips to museums. 

“We have had a lot of volunteers and most have been brilliant. They have a great time, but often their course finishes and they return to their home area, or, in a lot of cases, find jobs in support roles in Sheffield. This means our volunteer recruiting never stops!”

Image shows a previous art exhibition.