The Benevolent Society couldn’t help people live their life, their way without the ongoing support of our more than 220-strong team of volunteers. As part of this year’s National Volunteer Week (16 – 22 May), we thank our volunteers for their unwavering commitment and hard work. It’s a privilege to work alongside these fantastic people who share our passion for supporting vulnerable Australians.
This year’s National Volunteer Week theme is Better Together, which highlights how volunteering brings people together to change communities and create a better society for everyone. Here’s a snapshot of this theme in action at The Benevolent Society.
Volunteering at The Benevolent Society
Many of our client facing teams in our Aged Care Services, Disability and Child and Family services are supported by volunteers. We also have established volunteer programs with partners such as Volunteer Family Connect, Read with Me, Women’s Health and the Social Support Group at Greenwood Cottage.
“When there is a need for a volunteer, we work with the particular team to understand what kind of support they need,” explains Kirsty, The Benevolent Society’s Manager of People & Culture Processes. “We can then define the role, what sort of skills we’re looking for and how we can find the best people to help out.”
Volunteer candidates apply through a process that mirrors that of an employee recruitment process, including an initial written application, which if considered the right fit for the role, progresses the applicant to an interview stage and reference checks. Successful volunteers are matched to an opportunity that suits them and their lifestyle. Kirsty says that this approach to volunteer recruitment was developed to ensure that candidates would feel connected and part of the organisation even before they joined.
“We don’t expect volunteers to have particular skills, just a passion for the area they want to assist in. Whether it’s running a yoga class, providing reading support for children, or participating with social groups in our ageing community, we’re on the lookout for people who genuinely want to help our staff and clients.”
“I love that our volunteers are so diverse and bring passion to everything they do.”
“Volunteering provides an opportunity for professional and personal growth. Many of our volunteers have developed new skills which they wouldn’t have gained in their usual workplace. Others are interacting with people outside of their usual community, which has brought them valuable new social and cultural experiences.”
New volunteers at The Benevolent Society are provided with a Welcome Passport containing vital information about our organisation, key points of contact if they need additional support during onboarding and a checklist of modules they need to complete. A volunteer coordinator, team leader or manager is also responsible for ensuring that our new volunteer feels welcome and is well-equipped to support the relevant team or clients they’ll be working with.
“Our onboarding practices are standardised and streamlined to ensure volunteers can start contributing sooner,” says Kirsty. “As an organisation, we’re committed to ensuring people feel supported throughout their volunteering experience, particularly during the early days where they are still acquainting themselves with their new role and responsibilities.”
Hear from Shannon in the Volunteer Family Connect program
A long-time volunteer in various programs, Shannon joined our Volunteer Family Connect program in October 2021 and continues to volunteer today. This program is a community-based early intervention program providing one-on-one emotional support to parents and carers in their home.
“I stopped volunteering while raising my three children but now that they’re in school I realised that I needed to do something for myself and I wanted to give back to my community,” explains Shannon. “Volunteering with The Benevolent Society in the Volunteer Family Connect program was a good fit because it didn’t require a lot of time out of my day while also enabling me to develop new skills and knowledge.”
Shannon works closely with a family one to two hours a week, offering them non-judgemental support and encouragement. “Many families can feel isolated and vulnerable, so I help them find social support and link them to the community to ensure they are getting the support they need for their children to thrive,” she explains.
“Reducing isolation and fears for parents is essential for the wellbeing of children and their families. Not every parent is aware of or has access to the support that is out there.”
“The work I do helps families foster a compassionate and nurturing environment for their children.”
Shannon loves the work that she is doing in the Volunteer Family Connect program as it keeps her mentally stimulated with a sense of purpose in her life.
“I knew exactly what to expect in this role once I established what volunteer opportunities I was seeking,” she says. “The details of the role, level of commitment and training provided were all clearly outlined by The Benevolent Society so I was confident that I could do everything that I wanted to with my schedule.”
“They were so supportive of my availability and ensured that this would be a sustainable experience for myself, my family and the program. Onboarding was very streamlined; I was provided with all the necessary training and everyone was extremely encouraging and available to answer any questions I had along the way.”
If you, or someone you know is interested in volunteering with The Benevolent Society, find out more here or call our support centre at 1800 236 762.
You can also show your appreciation for volunteers by sharing a photo of a smiley face on your hand and uploading the photo to social media and tagging Volunteering Australia with the hashtags #WaveForVolunteers and #NVW2022.