A female volunteer helping out in a donation centre helping pack supplies into a box

‘I went from the quietest one to taking the lead’

Published : 06/06/24 | Categories: Volunteering |

This Volunteers’ Week we are bringing you the story of how the Volunteering Wales Main Grant has helped transform Mike and Victoria’s volunteering journey.

Arts Factory is an independent development trust based in Ferndale. Their mission is to create life-changing opportunities for people who feel that they ‘don’t fit’ and ‘aren’t accepted’ in society. In a part of Wales where there is considerable deprivation and limited opportunities, Arts Factory has a unique offer, providing a variety of accessible and tailored volunteering options to suit the needs of everyone who wants to get involved.

With support from the Welsh Government funded Volunteering Wales Main Grants scheme, the organisation employed a Volunteer Coordinator who has helped expand the volunteering programme and provide structured support and training for the volunteers. The grant has allowed Arts Factory to offer people more experiences and chances to improve their lives as well as making a difference in the local community.

MIKE’S JOURNEY

Mike is a Caretaker Volunteer at Arts Factory. He began volunteering in the Rhondda Fach Community Garden when the charity shop he volunteered in closed down. When his daughter was in school he found himself with nothing to do.

Mike explains: ‘when I first started I was quiet. I didn’t know anyone but I wanted to give something back to my community. I have lived in the Rhondda all my life and so does my daughter. I soon found my confidence through training, support and friendships while volunteering. I really enjoy being part of a team as well as helping those I volunteer with.’

When Arts Factory took on the community centre in Maerdy, Mike was asked if he was interested in having more responsibilities by taking on the role of Volunteer Caretaker. ‘I was honoured at the opportunity and felt valued. I went from the quietest one to the one taking the lead.

I’ve gone from being bored with nothing to get out of the house for, to having a social group, and a chance to give back to my community. I’ve even been working with the youth group in Arts Factory, which has really built my confidence and makes me feel I’m having a good impact on my local community and I belong.’

VICTORIA’S STORY

Victoria lives with her mother and younger brother in Maerdy. After finishing college she didn’t know what to do. She was at home all day which made her feel frustrated.  She also spent a lot of time on her phone and would get herself into situations that she felt were not healthy for her.

She was introduced to Arts Factory by another volunteer in Maerdy, and Victoria asked if she could join as well. ‘It sounded good and I started volunteering at the health and well-being group twice a week. I help set up the rooms ready for group, make drinks for people who come to group and help clean up after, wash dishes and I chat to people who come in and help them enjoy the group. I love it. It’s so much fun, I’ve made friends and it has helped my confidence. I also help at events like our Christmas community event and Easter tea dance.’

Victoria found the support she got as a volunteer very helpful.

Victoria says: ‘I’ve done lots of training to help me carry out my role, like food hygiene and first aid and essential skills training. I’ve also run the group by myself which I never thought I’d do and have trained up two new volunteers to help in the group.

I never thought I could do that but Arts Factory believes in me and without it I’d be stuck in my room or causing drama. But now I have support to help me keep busy help others and ‘almost’ keep out of trouble! It’s like a family and although it’s hard work, I enjoy it.’

REACHING NEW VOLUNTEERS

If you’re an organisation that works with volunteers, an easy way of reaching a new audience is through Volunteering Wales, where our aim is to make volunteering easy for volunteers and organisations working in the voluntary sector. You can advertise your voluntary positions for free, so sign up today and help someone begin their volunteering journey.

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