Volunteering with Mencap in Kirklees.
At Mencap in Kirklees we have a lot of different ways that people can volunteer to help people with a learning disability.
Learning disability covers a wide range of abilities and conditions. Some of the people we support are a bit shy and may struggle with reading and writing. Other people have higher levels of disability and may not be able to speak or may need help with all parts of their life.
Our job is to try and make sure that people with a learning disability have enjoyable lives and to make sure they get the same kind of chances as people without a disability.
Sometimes this help is needed because people can’t go out on their own. This can be because they are vulnerable to people taking advantage of them or because they can’t always keep themselves safe near roads and other dangers.
The kind of volunteers we are looking for would be at least 16 years of age, friendly and would enjoy chatting to people. They would enjoy having fun and would be keen to help other people have fun. They would also be sensible enough to let people do what they want whilst keeping an eye on them to make sure that they stay safe.
If you have your own interests, like arts and crafts, music, computers, gaming or more or less anything else then we would probably know people who would be interested. We also sometimes need people to help with promotional and office tasks, for example photography and website design and maintenance.
There is no fixed time commitment to volunteering but it does help us plan if you let us know how much time you have spare and how long you will be free for. It won’t cost you anything to become a volunteer and we pay back any money you have to spend whilst you are volunteering.
The different options.
Mencap in Kirklees has quite a few different services. I’ve listed some below and explained a bit about what volunteering in each of them would be like.
The Buddy scheme.
The Buddy scheme is a befriending service where each volunteer is matched up with a person with a learning disability. We have a long waiting list of people who would really like a Buddy. The idea is that the Buddies meet up regularly to do things that the person with a learning disability wants to do.
Ideally people would be able to meet up for at least an hour once a week but we understand that some people won’t be able to volunteer that much time and any time you can give would be appreciated.
For the buddy scheme we would also like people who could commit to volunteering for a bit longer. People get used to meeting up with someone and we don’t want them to have to keep starting and stopping. If you think you could volunteer for 6 months then that would be good but as this is volunteering it’s not a problem if you end up not being able to.
Shared Leisure Groups.
I think these are the most fun ways to volunteer. We meet up in groups to go out to regular leisure places. We visit pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, the bowling alley and any other event or thing we can think of. The groups have up to seven people in and you would always be with a member of staff. The groups normally last for about 2 and a half hours and run once a week. You could let us know that you would usually be available most weeks, once a fortnight or less frequently, perhaps once a month.
We are going to be starting groups soon for people who share similar interests. If you have any particular interests or hobbies you might be exactly who we are looking for.
We have clubs that meet at Waverley Hall on a Monday and a Wednesday night from 6.15pm to 8.15pm. We could really do with some new volunteers for these clubs. Volunteering at them is pretty similar to volunteering at the day centres but the Wednesday club night always ends with a disco.
Waverley Hall and Branches are two of our day centres. 18 to 40 people attend each day and they have a wide range of abilities. Sometimes people stay at the centre to take part in the activities they have chosen. Examples are making cards, painting, using the computers, drumming, tai chi, dance and drama. At other times they go out with staff for trips to museums and parks, to go swimming, horse riding and to any other places they have chosen.
Your role there would be to get involved in the activities and to chat to lots of people. We are also always looking for people who do interesting things. In the past people have put on drama shows, music performances and ran art groups.
If you wanted to come for a one off performance, maybe to sing or play guitar, that would be great. You normally wouldn’t need all the checks and training other volunteers need because we could be sure we could supervise you whilst you were there.
The Shop – Dewsbury
The Shop is a place for people with learning disabilities, and their families and carers, to go to for information and advice. We also run activities there for people who do not get funding from the council to pay for other types of support. Volunteers at The Shop could help with the activities, support people on trips out and serve customers in the retail part of The Shop. The Shop is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm. It is also open on Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Waverley Café – Huddersfield
We have a Café downstairs at Waverley Hall. We serve food to the general public and give people with a learning disability a chance to train and gain a qualification. If you have experience, or an interest, in catering then we could always do with the help. If you like baking then maybe you could help us out with our cake delivery service.
Poppies Cafe – Holmfirth
As part of our catering training scheme we also run Poppies Cafe at the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital. We need volunteers there to help us in the kitchen and, if people want, with the training. We are working with Age UK at Poppies so volunteers could also help them with their work with older people. When we have enough volunteers we will be starting a trolley round of the wards. This will involve spending time chatting to patients.
We have three residential homes. Volunteering in them would mean helping out around the house, socialising with the people who live there and generally being friendly and useful. Two of the homes are in Huddersfield and one is a bit larger and is in Ravensthorpe. The homes are very flexible when it comes to volunteers. Some people might do an odd hour now and again, some people visit more regularly
Events and fundraising
We are always looking for people who would like to help out with the events we organise and with our varied fundraising activities. In the past we have held barn dances, valentine’s discos and taken part in sponsored walks and runs. You could offer to help out every now and again or if you would like to be more involved you would be welcome to join us on our Events and Fundraising Committee.
How to become a volunteer
The first thing to do is to give me, Shelley Lane, a ring on 01484 340811 or you can email me at;
I will send you an application form and we will sort out a time to meet. If you live in the south of Kirklees this would normally be at Waverley Hall. Waverley Hall is on Waverley Road in Huddersfield, it’s the same road as the driving test centre and not far from the old Kirklees college building and Greenhead Park.
If you live in the North I would be able to meet you at The Shop. That is at 2 Church Street, Dewsbury which is close to the bus station at the bottom of Daisy Hill.
We meet up for an informal chat so that we can both check that you are suited to volunteering with people who have a learning disability.
Once you have met with me, and all the other people who will want to talk to you, we will start the application process.
Because you will be volunteering with people who may be vulnerable, you will need to fill in a form so we can get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check. The check looks at the police and court records to make sure you don’t have any previous convictions for things that might stop you volunteering.
Don’t worry if you have old convictions for minor things, or for things that aren’t to do with how suitable you would be for volunteering with us.We only care about things that might make us think that you shouldn’t be around the people we support.
As another check the application form asks for two references. These can’t be your family but teachers, friends or employers are fine.
When we have everything back we meet up again for induction training and also to look at any other training you may need. How much extra training you get depends on where you are hoping to volunteer.
We couldn’t run all the services we do without the help from volunteers so I really hope to hear from you.
Thank you, Shelley.