Volunteer Handbook

INTRODUCTION Welcome to South London Cares. As a young organisation tackling some big challenges we’re always inspired to see new people joining our growing network and rolling up their sleeves to support their older neighbours in Lambeth and Southwark. We’re very pleased to have you on board and look forward to getting to know you in the coming weeks and months. South London Cares is a small community network recruiting young professionals and students to support their older, often isolated neighbours with a little extra practical help, social connection and human companionship. We focus on recruiting young professional volunteers because we know that many people living busy work and social lives want to be involved in their local community but find it difficult to do so. For that reason we try to make our programmes as accessible as possible. Many of our activities occur during evenings and weekends, and we do not require you to commit to volunteering for weeks at a time unless you want to. We’ve also eliminated a lot of the paperwork, so we don’t require you to be CRB/DBS checked unless you want to support an individual through our “Love Your Neighbour” programme or by becoming an “SLC Organiser”. That means you can start straight away. In turn, we ask our volunteers to stay in regular contact with South London Cares staff by phone and email so that we can plan activities and interactions to make them the very best they can be – and to ensure they are always improving the lives of our older neighbours. We also ask our volunteers to talk to us regularly so that we can build a genuine social network flexible to changing needs. That means we can be agile to your needs and the needs of our older neighbours over time – but once you’ve committed to an activity, we’ll expect you to be there (disasters excepted)!

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Volunteer Handbook

SOCIAL CLUBS Over the coming weeks, you’re likely to volunteer under our “Social Clubs” programme. This programme offers local older people the chance to get out of the house, to interact with peers and young people, and to share new experiences, skills and cultural exchanges in community centres and local cafes from Brixton to Clapham and beyond. These clubs might hook on one of the following activities: Film Nights Cooking Sessions Storytelling Nights Lunch Clubs New Tech Workshops Concert Trips Meals Out Vintage Afternoon Teas

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These activities are run for medium-sized groups – normally 10-15 older people and 3-6 volunteers, although they can sometimes be bigger or smaller. While the cultural exchange is important and we may ask you to help us make tea or chop up cake and sandwiches, we like to stress that the real value added for all participants is in the interactions you’ll have with your older neighbours, the conversations you’ll enjoy, and the benefit everyone gains from those little chats. For that reason we ask all our volunteers to be confident; to arrive with an open mind; and to just sit and chat with your older neighbours. Ask them questions: how regularly do they join South London Cares’ events? Have they always lived around here? What did they do for a living? And tell them about yourself, too – people are interested to hear about your job, your family, your interests, what you got up to at the weekend, etc. Be sure to respond to your neighbours – if they want to follow up a topic of conversation, go with it; if they don’t, talk about something else.

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Volunteer Handbook

A South London Cares member of staff or an “SLC Organiser” will always be in attendance at each one of the “Social Clubs” you attend. You will know the name of this person before you get to the venue due to our communications with you ahead of time. Please announce yourself upon arrival at every venue and let the group leader know when you’re ready to leave – we don’t want anyone left behind! In the interim, the group leader will help to facilitate conversations between people but feel free to be pro-active if there’s a lull in conversation. The group leader is also important as a safety manager. If it’s your first time at a venue he or she will show you where the fire exit is in case of emergency. They will also be responsible for ensuring the venue is cleared in the agreed way, with lights off and doors locked and security alarms enabled. Please take direction from the group leader if they need your help with these matters. Apart from that, you’re going to have a great time – so sit back, relax, converse and get ready to build some relationships with some truly inspiring people. Just bear in mind these “Dos” and “Don’ts” before you start: Please do: • Be talkative! South London Cares is an interactive charity building relationships between people who might not otherwise have the chance to interact. Just by signing up you’ve shown that you’re our type of person – so dive in and be confident to chat. Stay in regular contact with South London Cares between volunteer sessions. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels, as well as our regular volunteer email blasts, and let us know whenever you’d like to join an activity: we’ll always have something for you to do across Lambeth and Southwark. Tweet and Facebook about your involvement – and remember to tag the South London Cares Facebook page and @SouthLDNCares on Twitter as you do. Every little helps us to grow our support network even wider.

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Volunteer Handbook

Please don’t: • Be late! Sometimes it’s unavoidable, of course, but it really helps us run great events if volunteers arrive on time, fired up and ready to go. Be anti-social. Tweeting and texting about what you’re doing is great but find a quiet moment to tell the world what you’re up to; don’t do it mid-natter with Lily or Ray. Get too personal. No one likes their physical space invaded or their most difficult moments brought up for everyone to hear. Ask questions, be inquisitive about the older people you meet but remember there are other people around who don’t need to hear embarrassing tales. TMI. Smoke, swear, drink or do anything you wouldn’t do in front of your Granny. We all know which behaviour types are inappropriate – keep it for the pub, please. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR Once you have been volunteering with South London Cares for a while through our “Social Clubs” programme you may like to participate in our “Love Your Neighbour” project as well. This is where we match volunteers to individual older neighbours who are often housebound or otherwise isolated, so that you can offer a little practical support around the house, or just a little companionship to someone who needs a friend. Our older neighbours who we engage through the “Love Your Neighbour” programme may be a little more frail or vulnerable than those who join our “Social Clubs”. We therefore require a little more commitment from volunteers who would like to support someone in this way. In particular, we need a CRB/DBS check before we can leave you alone with one of your neighbours. Although it takes a little backand-forth and a few documents we can normally confirm a CRB check within two weeks, and we can still make an introduction to someone who we may think is a

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good fit for you in the meantime. We’ll do this as a team so it’s a nice informal introduction. In addition, we need you to make a commitment, if you are willing to, to see your new friend regularly. This may be once a month, once a fortnight or once a week – we’ll agree that together. But we do need to know that you can be where you say you’re going to be and at a regular given time. If you would like to do the Love Your Neighbour volunteering, please speak to a member of staff at South London Cares, who’ll let you know much more. SLC ORGANISERS Starting in mid-2014 we will be training some of our most dedicated volunteers to be “SLC Organisers”. This is a special position that will give volunteers who want to give more the chance to step even closer inside the SLC family – to be trained to run events under the South London Cares banner as “group leaders” themselves, to set up their own activities, to administer parts of our database in order to mobilise volunteers directly, and to ensure events are run smoothly – five times a year. In return, we will ensure our “SLC Organisers” have all the tools and contacts they need to run successful events. “Organisers” will also receive the maximum SLC love: a unique t-shirt, a mug, a certificate and a professional reference from the charity as a thank you – and the warm glow of a job well done. If you would like to train to become an “SLC Organiser” please speak to a member of staff at South London Cares. Once again, welcome to South London Cares. We’re excited you’re joining our growing network of amazing volunteers – and we can’t wait to put you to work.

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