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This week we’re celebrating after being recognised as a gold standard volunteering provider by VAST!
At Glow we’re really proud of our volunteer programme which supports people – including those with lived experience – to become domestic abuse volunteers. Volunteers help us in a variety of different ways including admin support, fundraising and awareness raising work and co-delivering our recovery programmes and social activities alongside specialist staff in our Recovery Hub.
Last month we were officially recognised as a gold standard provider by VAST. Based at the Dudson Centre, VAST recently launched their ‘VAST Volunteering Quality Standards’ scheme to support volunteering across the local area. The scheme provides a framework which organisations can use to work towards accreditation.
Participating organisations can achieve bronze, silver or gold standard, all judged on a number of factors including their volunteering policies and procedures and how they work with new and existing volunteers. Rather than just assessing current practices, VAST’s volunteering team works with organisations to help them achieve an award and, if desired, progress to the next level.
VAST have launched the programme, free of charge, to organisations based in Stoke-on-Trent. The team hope this will make reaching accreditation more accessible for lots of local organisations and charities, no matter their size.
Senior Domestic Abuse Practitioner Sarah leads our volunteer programme. She said: “To be recognised as gold standard is just incredible. It feels really special because we all work so hard every single day – including our volunteers – to make sure we’re providing the best volunteering offer possible.
“We’re also proud to be the first organisation to complete the scheme and receive accreditation. This kind of scheme can typically be quite expensive which is unrealistic for many organisations, especially small charities. The fact that VAST have launched this locally, free of charge, is just brilliant. It will have such an impact on organisations and individuals across the voluntary sector.”
Since September we’ve trained twelve volunteers who are currently volunteering for our Recovery Hub and within our three Staffordshire refuges. This includes Natasha, whose surname has been omitted to protect her identity.
Natasha was in a relationship with her ex-partner for 11 years, during which she experienced emotional and physical abuse, with him alienating her from friends and bullying her out of her career. She came to our Recovery Hub as a volunteer last year, looking for way to give back and help others.
She said: “I’d say that 90% of abuse agencies focus on when you’re leaving and the immediate aftermath. It’s about those initial first steps, and then there’s nothing for recovery. Then I found about the Recovery Hub. It focused on healing and building yourself back up after an abusive relationship, which is so important. What Glow are doing would have been lifechanging for me when I first left my ex-partner. I wanted to be involved because I want to make sure that other people have access to these things that I didn’t have.
“When I left, I took so much from services and professionals, because I needed it. Now it’s my turn to give back. If my story and my lived experience can make it a little bit easier for another woman and make her feel validated and realise she isn’t crazy, then that’s brilliant.
“I love volunteering for Glow. The training was brilliant and really helped me feel equipped to support others, but also to build myself up again. It helped put the last pieces of the jigsaw together again, in the sense of I felt like I could remember who I really was.”
At Glow we’re proud to offer a full volunteer training programme, consisting of eight training sessions that equip volunteers with the knowledge and skills needed to support people who have experienced domestic abuse. New volunteers learn about the key legislation surrounding domestic abuse, the impact abuse has on victim-survivors and their children, safety planning and more.
After completing the training, volunteers are supported to find a role that suits them, alongside access to ongoing development opportunities and support.
Sarah continued: “We’re so proud of our volunteer training. It equips volunteers with all the skills they need to support us in lots of different ways, whether that’s co-facilitating our group programmes or delivering support to our customers.
“Volunteers are so important to us a charity – we couldn’t do what we do or have the impact we have without them. The expertise, passion and commitment of our volunteers is truly invaluable. Their experiences and skills shape the work that we do and help us make sure we’re delivering the best possible support to those who need it.
“We’d all like to say a huge thank you to VAST for their support in helping us reach gold standard. We can’t wait to see the impact that the scheme has on other organisations locally.”
Sian Osborn, Volunteering Project Officer at VAST, added: “We’re delighted to present Glow with a Gold Award for volunteering!
“As the first VAST Volunteering Quality Standards award, Glow’s commitment to their volunteers and volunteering practices is testament to their hard work and dedication to volunteering.
“Not only do they value volunteers’ contribution to their organisation, but they also recognise and reward that contribution and actively work to ensure a positive volunteering experience for every volunteer they engage with.
“In working towards this award, Glow has also helped us to fine-tune the scheme and iron out any creases, so in that respect, we’re very grateful to Sarah for allowing us to test the new scheme for the benefit of other volunteer-involving organisations too.”
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