When Yvonne Hughes arrived in Australia 25 years ago, she and her partner planned to travel for six months or so, maybe work here for a while and then return to England. But, much to her family’s dismay, they settled here permanently and went on to have two children.
Yvonne, our new Volunteer Coordinator and her other half (both from Lancashire), had a great time driving around Australia and then settled in Adelaide where they both found work within weeks.
Yvonne joined Sydney Community Services two years ago and now manages about 370 volunteers – people performing a huge range of services from fresh linen and meals-on-wheels deliveries, to gardening, to helping run social events such as lunches or day trips or cultural group activities. She’s highly qualified for the role, having a degree in psychology and working for a child abuse prevention service where Yvonne herself was a volunteer.
“As Volunteer Coordinator, it’s vital to match a volunteer with their role,” says Yvonne. “I want the volunteer to enjoy what they’re doing as much as a recipient of the service,” she says.
“When people volunteer they don’t necessarily know whether they want to be in a role where they make decisions or not, or if they want to work with a lot of people – say helping on a bus trip – or maybe they prefer to work alone or just with a few others. So I discuss the many possibilities available with SCS to help them work out what sort of work best suits them.”
The Community Visiting Scheme, which matches volunteer visitors with a recipient who’s socially isolated, offers roles which benefit from good communication and interpersonal skills and acceptance of a relationship which changes over time. When people and roles are well-matched, the positive effects are further multiplied when the volunteer stays with an organisation and even promotes volunteering by talking about their happy experience of it.