Volunteering and the difference it makes

At Community Network we work hard to create volunteering experiences that offer people an opportunity to gain some positive, in return for the time, skills and effort they give. Volunteering can improve self-worth, increase confidence and can help people to gain paid employment.

Ryan, aged 21 joined the team in November 2013 as a volunteer administrator. He was really keen to get a job but lacked the work experience many employers were looking for.

“It seemed like a good way to gain skills and I thought it would be good to help a charity out.”

During his time with Community Network, Ryan’s communication skills improved and he found himself becoming more confident. He was also able to do a wide range of tasks, including collecting mail, data entry, answer phones and use software such as Salesforce.
Although sad to see him go, we were all delighted when Ryan recently secured an apprenticeship in administration. Ryan felt that his time with Community Network had helped him to find work.

“It just shows that voluntary work can make all the difference!”

Teach a man to fish…

They say if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. The same logic can be applied to approaches to addressing loneliness.

In the UK, befriending services are big business for organisations looking to tackle the silent killer of confidence, the slasher of self-esteem and the hammerer of health and well-being; social isolation and loneliness. Charities across the UK are able to provide a menu of befriending options to those enquiring about support, as one size doesn’t fit all. Some people may opt for a one off visit or trip, others like face to face befriending, some prefer befriending by telephone and an increasing number of people like to meet up together in groups on the telephone.

If you take an isolated and/or lonely person out for a day, or involve them in a one off excursion you will likely create some pleasant memories. However, it is short term, quick fix solution to a deep-seated problem.  The beauty of befriending is that it is an ongoing process focused specifically on the person being befriended. Done well, it gradually instills confidence and brings a positive sense of identity back to a person.

For some, befriending services are a big step towards feeling connected and part of a community. Telephone Communities take this one stage further, instantly giving people the chance to form multiple connections at once, yet still remain safe and comfortable in their own homes.  They can rebuild social skills, repair identities and rekindle personal interests. It is true that this happens in one to one befriending too, but the difference with Telephone Communities is that there is more than one individual contributing to that person’s life and their sense of self.  They are not a recipient of someone’s charity but rather an active agent in their own community.

Rather than giving someone a one off experience, befriending gives a person the skills to form new relationships and rediscover the identity that social isolation and loneliness has eroded. Telephone Communities go a step further, building a network of support for those unable to connect to others in their locality.

If one to one befriending is as effective as teaching a man to fish, then Telephone Communities are the universities of fishing.

Chris, Social Inclusion Manager

Job vacancy – Project Officer

We are seeking an enthusiastic Project Officer for our exciting new project, Birmingham Telephone Communities for Older People. The successful candidate will have responsibility for setting up and running per led telephone groups for over the age of sixty, leading a small team of volunteers and raising the profile of Community Network’s work in the West Midlands.

We are looking for someone who is passionate about supporting older people to stay connected to others, has experience of managing volunteers and a good knowledge of local networks and the voluntary sector in Birmingham.

The post is 21 hours per week, home based with some travel to Community Network’s London Office. It is initially funded until the end of February 2015. Salary £25,000 pro rata.

For more information or to apply for this post please visit Charity Job


Community Network Challenge Champions

Have you set yourself a challenge for 2014?

On Sunday 27th April Community Network’s Chief Executive, Angela Cairns and Deputy Chief Executive, Michelle Ballantyne will be taking part in the UFD Hackney Half Marathon to raise money for our work supporting people who are lonely and isolated to connect to others via the telephone.

We would love you to join us in running the half marathon and become one of our Challenge Champions.

It’s easy to sign up and there is no minimum sponsorship to raise. We ask that you pay the race entrance fee of £18 (£20 after 31st January) and then ask friends, colleagues and family to sponsor you.

Here’s what you have to do:

1. Sign up for the UFD Hackney Half Marathon here.
2. Then email us at fundraising@community-network.org and we’ll send you all the information on how to raise funds and tips on training.

Picture of Michelle and Angela.

Join us and become a Challenge Champion.

Join us this April, help vulnerable people stay happy, healthy and connected to others and become Challenge Champions.