Katie volunteers as a mediator for Herts Young Homeless (hyh). Their Mediation team works with young people and their families to help resolve conflict, and enable better relationships and positive communication, all of which assists in preventing homelessness. hyh (www.hyh.org.uk) is a unique charity in Hertfordshire providing services to support vulnerable people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so. Their focus is on preventing homelessness – from education in schools and family mediation through to providing emergency accommodation for a young person in a volunteer’s home or supporting adults who have mental health needs and housing issues.
1. How did you hear about volunteering for Herts Young Homeless?
I came across hyh in my role in Children’s Services as an independent consultant with the Family Group Conference Service and also during my family mediation training. One of our trainers mentioned he was working with hyh.
2.What made you want to help and volunteer?
I wanted to use my mediation training and gain experience and I’ve always done voluntary roles.
I also really believe in what mediation can do for families and wanted to use that skill in my volunteering and my job. It gives me experience and I can give some time back volunteering. It’s a two-way street, volunteering gives me the opportunity to get mediation experience and give something back to community as I’d like to become an accredited family mediator in the future.
3. How often do you volunteer for the charity and do you balance this with work or other life commitments?
In this particular role, I’m able to be very flexible which works well with my family. One day a week is my commitment but the time is broken down over several days. Other volunteer roles are very different timewise but this suits me as I can fit it in around work. It would be difficult if I had to volunteer set hours so the flexibility is a benefit and it suits hyh that I can be flexible.
4. What skills do you think you need to be a volunteer?
You need commitment to be a volunteer. I have to be very well organised in this role and pretty diligent keeping records. You need a real understanding of financial constraints as charities are usually on pretty tight budgets. I think people are mindful of it here but we do a lot of driving in the Mediation Team.
As a volunteer I get expenses. All my mileage is paid, if I’m in a full day, I get money towards lunch and I’m provided with a phone.
5. What do you like best about volunteering for Herts Young Homeless?
The Mediation team at hyh is fantastic. They’re really committed to the work and have been very supportive of me.
I’ve had some training in report writing and keeping records and I receive regular supervision (catch-up meetings to discuss workload, address any issues and discuss further development) with my line manager and an external mediator.
My manager has really involved me in following a case and that’s been valuable. There’s a feeling about hyh that everyone is committed to supporting young people. They’re like a big family. It feels very supportive and I’m made to feel part of the team and feel involved
6. How does volunteering help you with developing new skills or finding paid employment?
Being able to develop new skills is a really important part of why I’m volunteering. It’s a big attraction for people who want to expand and learn new skills, particularly if you’re a school, college or university leaver or a returner (to work).
The thing volunteering has given me is that mediation is a skill I’m wanting to develop so it’s really come a long at the right time. It’s opened up a new opportunity for me and also at the same time I’m able to support a local charity that I think do a fantastic job.
hyh has several different volunteering opportunities. For more information visit: www.hyh.org.uk/volunteer