Alison, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership Volunteer
1 June 2018
Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, North West locality, Health Improvement offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities tailored both to the needs and aspirations of the volunteers and the demands of the service.
One of the initiatives volunteers were involved in was the Fruit and Vegetable Barra implemented in Drumchapel Health Centre to promote healthy eating, provide access to quality and affordable fruit and vegetables within a community setting. It also provided a platform to promote other health improvement topics
Volunteers from various backgrounds were recruited for the Barra. It was recognised that having a volunteer from the local community would add value to the service. A number of local services were contacted to promote the volunteering opportunity and a meeting was arranged with Alison, a member of local community group, Drumhub. It transpired she had founded the group after completing the course in Health Issues in the Community. The meeting was arranged to request if the group could advertise the volunteering opportunity to the local residents. During the conversation it was clear Alison would be ideal as a volunteer for the Barra as she had great local connections and was well known in the local community bringing local assets in representing and promoting the barra. Alison agreed to be recruited as one of the fruit Barra volunteers. It was clear from the beginning the Barra and local residents benefitted from her involvement as much as she benefitted volunteering with our organisation.
Alison Horner’s Testimony
“I moved back to Drumchapel around 6 years ago, having grown up in the area until I married in 1977. I noticed a great change in the area on my return and felt that I should get involved in the community in order to re-integrate and get to know people.
I initially joined the Community Council which gave me a great overview of the difficulties the community faced in relation to improving their circumstances and opportunities. I then took up a course run by the Axis Health Hubs, Health Issues in the Community. This enabled me to look at my community and identify areas that I thought needed tackling. My focus was on developing a Community Cafe initially, which would give locals a base to meet and share. I followed this up through Health in the Community part 2 and as a result established a community group aimed at vulnerable and isolated people within the area. This took off and as a result of this I looked towards working in partnership with other agencies and networks within the community that could provide information and support.
Sandra Duff, Volunteer co-ordinator and her volunteer from Glasgow Health and Social Care, North West Locality, Health Improvement Team contacted me to speak about the Barra. Following discussion about my group and what Sandra was looking for I agreed to volunteer at the Barra. I saw this as an opportunity to reach more local people as it was based in the Health Centre to promote my group but it also enabled me to access trainings particularly in relation to healthy eating and health improvement. I was able to pass on my learning to my group participants. I was also able to negotiate with other staff I came in contact to visit Drumhub and provide information on specific topics. My group grew as a result of this and where it only met once a week it went on to meet twice a week. It also grew in numbers and the contacts I made whilst completing this voluntary work at the Fruit Barra was beneficial.
Unfortunately through varying circumstances I was no longer able to maintain volunteering at the Fruit Barra but was willing to step in when needed. The Barra is closed now but I would like to say that it was a worthwhile experience for me and I enjoyed my time. I still run my community group and delighted to say that it has also benefited from my time with the Fruit Barra.”
Building relationships and partnering with Drumhub provided an opportunity for the Health Information Points (HIP) volunteers to visit Drumhub and build further links with the community. HIP Volunteers have met with the group to raise awareness and give information on various topics which affect their health. They can also support the group with referral to various services which can provide further support.
This collaborative work has been fascinating building on local assets between the volunteer and our own volunteering programme.
A number of students from Glasgow Caledonian University studying Dietetics contacted if they could volunteer at the Barra. They were available only for a short period of time, May 2017- June 2017. This presented us with an opportunity to consider micro volunteering and three students were recruited.
Later on one of the students had her university placement with the Dietetics Service based at Drumchapel Health Centre. It was an interesting co-incidence and the volunteer expressed she felt at ease when she started her placement as she was already familiar with the area, staff and health centre users.
The volunteers’ feedback was that the Barra was good for further developing their communication skills and gave them a valuable opportunity to work with different demographics and people from different backgrounds and circumstances. They suggested dietetic students who have capacity to volunteer for a bit longer than they had would particularly benefit from being able to have lots of different conversations about eating well and having a balanced diet.