Our Volunteer Coordinator’s Story
I’m the Volunteer coordinator and part of the senior management team at Behind Closed Doors.
I joined BCD nearly 12 years ago, starting as a volunteer. I had decided to have a change in career and went to university, as a ‘mature’ student to study for a degree in Counselling and therapeutic studies. I wanted to gain as much experience as I could while studying and someone recommended volunteering at BCD. After applying and being lucky enough to be selected, I was part of the team.
Back then, the organisation was much smaller than it is now and my training was on a one to one basis rather than the group training we run nowadays. However the depth of knowledge I was given about domestic violence and abuse was still the same. To me, my volunteer day was one of my ‘working days’; I knew that it was important to my development to have this amazing learning experience, but to the team and especially the service users it was important to them to have my commitment. As a volunteer I was given a lot of responsibility, always with the support of the team. Once I was fully trained I had my own case of service users to support. As well as supporting service users at home, I would support them with practical needs, such as housing, court and social care meetings.
When I had been volunteering for about 18 months, BCD secured funding for a part time role, this came at a time that I was starting to look for employment as university was coming to an end- I immediately applied. BCD has a very fair recruitment process, which I had to go through before I was offered the job. One of the huge benefits of volunteering is that it gives you experience of a role that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. The paid roles that are advertised at BCD request applicants have a high level of prior experience; I wouldn’t have been able to apply for such a role if I hadn’t volunteered and gained the experience. As BCD is reliant on funding, job vacancies are rare and I felt privileged to have a job in an organisation I love being part of.
There have been a lot of changes along the way during my time at BCD, including becoming a part of the Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) consortium and the development of the Prevention and Recovery Service (PARS).
Six years ago, I changed roles within BCD. I moved from the LDVS practically focused community team into the supervisor role of the emotionally focused PARS. The role includes supporting the team, training and supervising the volunteers, supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse by telephone (I currently don’t do community work) supporting development of the service, being part of the Volunteer managers network, external training and any other tasks that come my way. No two days are the same and we never know what will come our way.
People often ask if my job is depressing… Of course it has its difficult times, but there is no better feeling to know that a person who has lived a life of abusive fear and control can move on and safely live the life they deserve.