Volunteers making a difference


16 October 2017

Our Volunteering Team have been hard at work training up new recruits for our Safer Heroes, Winter Heroes and V50  projects.

It was great to see so many new faces who will be helping us to support our vulnerable and older residents. Read about how they will be making a difference to their lives as well as our residents' lives.

Find out more about volunteering with Optivo.

Bunmi, VolunteerBunmi, from Southwark: Safer Hero

“I’m currently doing a part-time course at university in Community Development and Leadership. Part of this requires me to do a volunteer placement. I feel volunteering will provide me with some really useful learning and training that will boost my CV. It will help to enhance my skills when it comes to things like communication, and teach me new things about housing, including repairs and how to assess residents in their home.

“I chose this role because I used to work as a domiciliary care worker, which involved helping elderly people in care homes and in their own homes.

“I really enjoyed the work. Lots of the people I looked after were isolated, they didn’t go out and they didn’t have family who would visit them.

“In most cases, all they wanted was someone to talk to and by doing something as simple as that I found I could make a big difference. I found that just being there was a huge relief to them; I was someone they could talk to about any worries. I was a friendly face. It’s such a great feeling to make someone happy.

“By volunteering I really hope to continue to make a difference in people’s lives as well as improve my skills.”

Blessing, Optivo resident from Lambeth: Safer Hero

 “I feel that this volunteering placement will give me some vital training that will help me find the job I want. It’s really helping me to broaden my horizons. As well as learning new skills I’m also learning lots of new things about Optivo. I thought housing associations just provided houses – but Optivo is also about supporting the people inside the houses.

“I chose the Safer Hero programme because I have experience as a carer and I really enjoyed that work. I got to meet some fantastic people and, for many of them, I became part of their family.”

Fatima, VolunteerFatima, Optivo resident from Balham: Safer Hero

“Becoming a volunteer is the chance to learn something new and gain a new qualification that I can use to change my career.

“I used to work in the oil and gas industry. It was really cut-throat and stressful. I admit when I was younger I was looking for a job that would bring in the money and that’s why I chose that career path. Now I’m a bit older, and I have children, I’d like to do a job that I actually enjoy, something meaningful that makes a difference in people’s lives and I feel good about. I feel Safer Heroes will help me do this.

“I feel like a lot of older and vulnerable people are forgotten about today by their family, and they never ask for help. They just need someone to check up on them once and a while and I can provide this support. I also know a bit about home adaptations too so I can tell them about this. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which means I am prone to injury just getting around my home. I have been helped a lot by adaptations like hand rails.”

Celeste, from Tottenham: V50

“My health has been deteriorating and I have recently felt as if I should stay close to home, but it’s left me feeling as if I don’t really have anything to do. It’s really unlike me as I used to be very active and in and out of the house. When I told my daughter she gave me a kick up the backside and convinced me to get out and do something.

“Part of my culture is caring and I’ve always enjoyed helping people.  I used to be a social worker and have supported many children and families – including those with mental health issues. Outside of work, in my community, I’m also seen as an elder – they call me ‘mummy’.

“As a volunteer I’ve not just got the opportunity to help other people – I can help myself. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and moping at home, I can get out and do something.”

Izaak, VolunteerIzaak, from Stockwell: Safer Hero

“I really enjoy working with diverse groups of people. I like helping and I wanted to do something good.

“I have just finished at university where I studied English Language, Media and Communications.

“I’m interested in starting a career as a housing officer and I feel this volunteer position would give me vital experience. I would recommend more students do it. Many are in a rush to get out and make money. I think I would benefit from some work experience. I think businesses appreciate that; they want someone mature who can hit the ground running.”

Ionie, VolunteerIonie, from Herne Hill: Safer Hero

“I’m visually impaired and have recently been on leave from work due to a series of operations and recovery.
But I’m now at a stage where my vision is stable enough to get me back on the right track. I felt volunteering would be a step on the ladder to employment. I can use the experience to update my CV and widen my horizons.

“I also really enjoy volunteering. I’m already a member of my local residents’ association and have previously worked with visually impaired people through the South London Vision Impaired Society. I really enjoy volunteer work because you can really make a difference you to people’s lives when you join together to do something good.”