Why did you become a volunteer at SWAN Women’s Centre?
I was introduced to SWAN Women’s Centre by the manager of my last job. Initially I wanted to build on my marketing skills. I started as a social media and marketing volunteer, helping to spread the word about the centre and the services it provides. But as I got more involved and enjoyed my time there, I became a befriender. Also, I helped co-write SWAN’s first published piece of research with Dr Dan Sliver from the University of Manchester. I love making a difference to people’s lives. When I’ve considered volunteering, I’ve wanted to do it for charities and projects that you can see have not only an impact on the people who they support but on the communities that these people are a part of. SWAN prides itself on doing both and it is one of key reasons that I wanted to get involved with the centre.
What have you gained in terms of personal development?
So much. SWAN has given me more confidence in myself and my abilities. As a befriender, in particular, one woman I supported went to town independently for the first time in 10 years and that is something I will always be so proud of helping her achieve. The feeling you get knowing that you have made such a difference to an individual’s life is one that stays with you. It’s so rewarding to be part of a woman’s journey; it’s a privilege. Befriending was something I never had experience of doing before but with SWAN’s training and encouragement I felt that I could do it, and that’s something I am really grateful for.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at SWAN?
It's the people I have met. Truly. From the SWAN team to the women I have supported, I’m always learning from them and being inspired by their stories. I have been a volunteer for just over two years now and absolutely love it. I’ve always felt so supported and valued by the SWAN team. The centre is so warm and welcoming. You feel really relaxed when you are there. Everyone there really cares about what they do. Also, my relationship with SWAN has been a two-way street. It has helped me when I've needed it. The staff have been there to listen to me and help when I’ve come to them with a personal issue or professional problem of my own and I really appreciate that.
What is the training like?
It’s really great. You get your induction and then if you're part of a service like befriending you get in-depth training so that you are prepared for the role. If you’re ever unsure about anything the staff are so open and friendly, so you don’t feel nervous about asking questions and getting the support that you need.
Why volunteer for SWAN?
It’s honestly the best place I’ve volunteered. If you want to help women in the community, gain more confidence and work with a fantastic team, I say go for it, you have got nothing to lose and so much to gain!