Volunteering changes lives… and here’s how we help

To build her confidence and improve her social skills, Farah wanted to get into volunteering.

This is where VAST comes in, and following a couple of quick questionnaires, Gloria, VAST Volunteering’s Inclusive Volunteering Officer, was able to establish how best to help Farah get started on her volunteering journey.

The initial inclusive volunteering questionnaire asked a number of questions centred on wellbeing, loneliness, skills, and access to transport, and the following travel questionnaire meant Gloria could get a good idea about how Farah found travelling around the city and what barriers she was facing. 

For Farah, travelling around Stoke-on-Trent with her family by taxi was, understandably, becoming increasingly difficult to afford and completely unsustainable. Between them, Farah agreed to take part in some ‘travel training’ to build her confidence in using public transport—something she had never done before—and welcomed Gloria’s support as it was something she was initially feeling “very nervous” about. 

Tailored to Farah, the travel training was created to cover all sorts of travel guidance, from reading bus timetables and recognising road signs to digital travel passes and how to use them. To help Farah with her travel plan, Gloria began with a risk assessment and planning a safe route to the bus station, followed by basic road safety skills and guidance on personal safety when out and about. To put some of this into practice, Gloria accompanied Farah on a short bus journey in the city, demonstrating and discussing basic procedures for using the bus and pointing out easily recognisable landmarks along the way.

About the travel training, Farah said:
“I found out about road safety and how to safely cross the road. We went on a bus going to Tunstall and a bus going back to Hanley. I got to go to a shop and the Hanley Bus Station and found out about how and where the buses are coming and going from. I learnt some landmarks on the way on the buses. I enjoyed my day with Gloria. Thank you.” 

About getting into volunteering, Farah expressed her interest in history and said she’d like to volunteer with VAST at the Dudson Museum. So, Gloria arranged for a tour of the museum, and Farah was “really excited” about starting her volunteering journey.

Following an induction session with VAST Volunteering, including a tour of the VAST offices at the Dudson Centre, Farah began to volunteer at the museum for events, including a children’s Story Quest event ‘Norah the Night Guard’ trail around the centre’s courtyard.

Farah is now thriving in her volunteer position and continues to build her confidence with each and every session, even travelling unaccompanied, which she’s never felt able to do before!

What next for Farah? Well, she’ll continue to volunteer and thrive at the Duson Museum, and travel training with Gloria will progress until Farah feels confident enough to travel independently.  

What a fantastic achievement, Farah! Well done!

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you begin your volunteering journey, no matter the hurdles you come up against, please get in touch and we’ll do our very best to help you get started.