Sandra is a Victim Support Community Volunteer
When did you first start volunteering?
"I first started volunteering when I retired. I'd been teaching for 39 years and suddenly thought I don't know what I'm going to do with my time now so I visited Redhill Volunteer Centre to ask about possible volunteering opportunities. Initially they suggested lots of opportunities for working with children as this was my background but I was keen to do something totally different so they told me about Victim Support."
What does being a Victim Support Community Volunteer involve?
"We support people who have been victims of crime. Once you are allocated a case, you arrange an initial visit to tell the person about victim support and find out how best you can support them. There are all sorts of ways you can support someone from providing advocacy to accompanying them to court to being someone to talk to about their experience. Just by listening to people you can really support them as a lot of people don't feel they can speak to anyone else."
How often do you volunteer?
"The time varies depending on the case but usually 4 or 5 hours per week. The good thing is you choose when you do it as you can arrange to meet the person whenever is convenient for you. Most of my volunteering is during the day but it can also be during the evenings or at weekends. I also volunteer as an Independent Custody Visitor and I do this about 3 hours every month."
What support do you get as a volunteer?
"There's a really strong support network. Initially I had three days of core training and my manager also came with me on my first visit. You have to check in at the beginning and end of every visit and if the team know you've got a difficult case someone will always call you to check you're okay. We also have regular one-to-ones and meetings with other volunteers so we all support each other. Since the core training, I've also chosen to do some additional training in areas of interest such as domestic violence or supporting children and young people."
What do you find most rewarding about the volunteering you do?
"I like the satisfaction of knowing you've helped someone. Sometimes it can be challenging but I wanted something with an element of challenge and I've been able to learn about lots of new areas. One of the things I really enjoy is you never know who you are going to meet and every day is different. If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I'd say if you like meeting and helping people, give it a go as you'll be able to fit it around your own life."
Find out more and get involved with Victim Support Volunteering.
To speak to someone about volunteering where you live, get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre.