Alex Congreve of Cardiff Women’s Aid explains their mission to end violence against women, and how they achieved Investing in Volunteers (IiV) accreditation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cardiff Women’s Aid (CWA) is very proud to be an Investing in Volunteers accredited organisation, having achieved the Award in April 2020 for the 3rd time.
We value and appreciate the passion and hard work our volunteers put in, and we hope this award shows the commitment we have towards involving volunteers in a meaningful, respectful and rewarding way.
What we do
CWA works towards an end to all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Our mission is to transform society’s response to violence against women and girls and in particular domestic and sexual violence/abuse through the services we provide to those affected.
Our services include emergency accommodation, 1:1 and group work, an online survivor forum, counselling, outreach, activism, a range of skills-sharing workshops and other volunteering opportunities.
Founded by volunteers
Our organisation was founded by volunteers in 1975, and as our Chair of Trustees, Dr Rachel Minto, put it: ‘our refuges were established by volunteers; it just wouldn’t have happened without that voluntary action.’
Volunteers play a central role in delivering CWA’s services, and have been a vital source of support for us over the years.
We are also constantly striving to provide a supportive and welcoming environment for our volunteers and achieving this IiV accreditation will help us prove, improve and promote our fantastic range of volunteering opportunities.
Here’s a testimony from one of our volunteers, who works with our social media team ‘Volunteering at Cardiff Women’s Aid makes me feel like I am really able to raise awareness of issues such as domestic violence and women’s rights and help make change.
‘It may not be on a big scale, but it still feels worthwhile and valuable.
‘Volunteering is often seen as mundane and something to do just to ‘look good’, but volunteering at CWA is not this at all, it is stimulating and very rewarding – I love it!’
Challenges during the pandemic
In these times of uncertainty, our organisation is adapting quickly to more virtual volunteering opportunities, and we’re so grateful to our volunteer team for being so flexible and adaptive to this surprising change in circumstances.
Despite the challenges, lockdown has presented us with some important new volunteering opportunities and projects, and our team has been commendable in quickly rising to the challenge.
Importantly, we’ve been focused on checking in with the well-being of our volunteer team, keeping up regular contact with Zoom catch-up sessions, emails, calls and messages and moving our volunteering to various online platforms.
One of volunteers in a recent volunteer well-being survey commented: ‘I think you’re all doing such an amazing amount… and [I’m] really getting so much out of it! More than anywhere else!’
After the pandemic
Coming out of this global pandemic, we’re planning to celebrate this achievement (responsibly, of course!) with our volunteers and staff members.
We’re also hoping to reinvigorate our advice café and therapeutic gardening projects, both volunteer-led ventures which we’ve sadly had to put on hold for now.
But in the meantime, we’re so grateful to our amazing and resilient team of volunteers, who have adapted brilliantly to new and different ways of volunteering.
We are all immensely proud to have received this Investing in Volunteers award, which recognises the hard work and dedication of all members of our CWA community, staff and volunteers alike!
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