4 November 2020
What do you do with Forth Valley Welcome (FVW)?
I’m a Trustee and Team Leader for the Material Needs Team.
As a Trustee I was able to focus on where I felt my own skills and experience would be most useful. I source items for the families we support – clothes, bikes, electrical items, toys – you name it, we try and find it and get it to them. Being a Trustee is about making sure the all aspects of the governance of the organisation are adhered to – finances, employment, volunteer management etc – but you don’t have to be an expert on these things -– everyone will help guide you along those bits.
How did you start with FVW?
About 4 year ago I was involved in collecting donations for Edinburgh Aid Direct who sent clothing to refugees in the Lebanon. I’d set up a collection point at the school my children go to. This got me interested in the whole refugee crisis and I then got in touch with the Chair of Forth Valley Welcome, Savi Maharaj and she invited me to a meeting of the Board. They were just at the start of creating the organisation and talking about how they could help when the first prospective families arrived
Why pick FVW rather than some other volunteer involving organisation?
Because I really wanted to help the refugee crisis and this seemed like a good, practical way to help local families who were being resettled in the area.
Why do you volunteer?
This may sound a bit strange, but I like that you don’t get paid! What I mean by that is I can pick it and put it down when I need to. I don’t have to do it but I get the feel good factor by being involved.
What is good about volunteering for FVW?
The Trustees, volunteers and service users are all lovely and welcoming. When I first started, I had three young children and ran a child-minding business. I felt like I hadn’t had much adult company for a long time and had lost some confidence. Being involved as a Trustee made me use my brain again and it helped build my confidence back up. Because the organisation was just new, I also felt I was able to influence how it shaped up an and what decisions were made about how best to support the families who were arriving. I’d not done anything like it before and it was really interesting and I’ve learned a lot.
Most challenging thing about volunteering with FVW?
It’s quite logistically challenging – sourcing and moving loads of items about over Stirling and Clackmannanshire. The language barrier often makes things difficult; we sometimes get it wrong and deliver the wrong thing! There’s also some cultural differences and a reluctance to complain from the families where they don’t want to say if they don’t like something that’s been delivered but that’s getting better now.
You often involve your children in your volunteering – has that been deliberate?
Definitely! I want them to be involved so they appreciate their own lives more and have an understanding of the challenges other people face. The kids love coming along to the events we run and play with the children and they’ve got to know some of them quite well. It makes life easier for me if I can involve them and they really like it.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to volunteer with FVW?
Not to be worried about language barrier, it’s amazing how you can muddle through with a few words, some hand gestures and a sense of humour! I’d say to anyone interested, just go for it! It could change your life.
If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, or any other volunteer role, please email email@example.com.