In the latest of a series of blogs we are running to mark Volunteers’ Week, Rob Music gives an insight into the invaluable work of those who help Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust:
The Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust volunteers are a very special group of people who come from all walks of life and have had all sorts of different experiences.
They possess a wide and diverse variety of interests and skills.
However, they all have one thing in common: they are passionate about helping us to reach, inform and support women and their loved ones who have been affected by cervical cancer or cervical abnormalities.
Volunteers donate their valuable time in many different ways. From working on our vital services – including our national helpline and local support groups – to our Jo’s Voices patient group, who review a range of work and information we are looking to develop.
Leading healthcare figures make up our expert medical panel answering 952 questions online. In addition many of our volunteers – both women and men – attend and run stalls at events or tell their story to the media, enabling us to reach more and more people.
We ensure that volunteers are offered the appropriate training and coaching required before taking on any role. For example, our support group and helpline volunteers attend training every year over a full weekend to ensure they have the skills to do the best they can for those they are supporting.
The impact our volunteers have on the health of our users is significant, both in terms of quality of life improvements and reach.
Feedback from our cervical cancer support groups includes that attendees feel less isolated, have overcome difficulties resulting from treatments and gained new friends in their community.
Thanks to an increasing volunteer base we have seen positive growth in the numbers we are able to reach, for example, helpline calls have risen by over 400 per cent in the last four years and our Ask the Expert service has had a 100 per cent increase in submissions in the last two years.
It is vital that there is a two way benefit to volunteering, and our volunteers tell us how much they personally gain from new skills, enabling them to give something back – often after their own cancer diagnosis – as well as gaining fresh skills that could lead to opportunities such as a new job.
And in terms of financial value we estimate our volunteers support the equivalent of three full time posts, which is worth at least £100,000 a year to the charity.
The time and commitment given to the charity by our volunteers is extraordinary and we work extremely hard to ensure they feel part of the Jo’s family, are appreciated and in turn want to continue to support us. Because of this we have seen the numbers volunteering for the charity grow from 50 in 2008 to more than 400 today.
In January 2015 this two way commitment was recognised when the charity was awarded the Investing in Volunteers accreditation.
The work of the charity was also recently recognised through winning the prestigious GSK IMPACT Award in association with the King’s Fund; designed to reward charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health. The judging panel recognised the real value our volunteers have had on our development and we can only echo this sentiment.
We absolutely couldn’t achieve what we do without them and are enormously grateful for the impact our volunteers have on our work and those we support.
- Volunteers’ Week runs from June 1-7, 2015
- Tomorrow we hear about the vital work of people who give up their time to the Volunteering Matters charity from Duncan Tree, its Head of Policy and Performance.