Interview with SPEAR's Volunteering Manager
Nicky Dalglish has been SPEAR’s Volunteering Manager for three years and has worked with over 500 volunteers. Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, she explains why her job is so rewarding and how volunteers play a vital role at SPEAR.
How many volunteers do you have at SPEAR?
We currently have around 120 active volunteers. I will say that on our database we have a couple of hundred more but in any one year, we tend to see a contribution from around 120 people.
Which part of your job do you enjoy most?
The part of my job that I enjoy most is when we have special gardening days or cooking sessions and I get to go out on site visits and get to spend the day with our wonderful volunteers. It’s always fun to meet everybody and to see volunteering in action, actually happening.
A substantial number of volunteers are ex-clients, what do you think that says about SPEAR?
Yes, a substantial amount are ex-clients. We have client volunteers, we have peer-mentor volunteers. Peer mentor volunteers are clients who have undertaken some specific training and I think it’s wonderful that they want to do this. I think it’s their way of giving back to SPEAR as a way of saying thank you, but it also is beneficial to them as it’s part of their journey back to their own independence by helping other people who are still on that pathway.
What would you like to say to all volunteers seeing this?
Well, I’d like to say a very big thank you to all our volunteers, each and every one of them, well each and every one of you. Your dedication, your professionalism, your kindness, and simply giving us your time, I think speak volumes about how wonderful you all are. And you are really truly appreciated by everybody at SPEAR.
A few words by some of our volunteers:
Dr. Sarah is a GP who has joined SPEAR as a volunteer towards the end of last year. She started running a weekly clinic at our Hub office in Twickenham. She specializes in mental health and has been talking to and supporting SPEAR clients each week since December last year. Clients are able to access advice in a familiar environment and Sarah often provides a follow up service with the client’s GP. She works as a GP and is also a mum, so we are enormously grateful to her for giving us time out of her busy schedule.
Dr. Sarah – Volunteer GP
“I met the SPEAR team through my corporate partnership as part of my full-time job. I was so impressed with the service that SPEAR offered that I decided to volunteer my personal time as well.
I’ve been lucky enough to support SPEAR as a volunteer driver collecting and delivering supermarket donations, and a gardener – my organization has done several team garden tidies at SPEAR properties. I also did an outreach visit with the Kingston outreach team, I am a mentor and I have also helped with a client research project. These roles have given me a huge insight to the fantastic work SPEAR provides to the community and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the team. These volunteering roles keep me very busy given that I work full time!”
Claire – Volunteer
‘I have been volunteering for SPEAR since around 2013. Originally, I joined when the organisation planned to start reading tuition in conjunction with Richmond College. When this unfortunately did not get off the ground, SPEAR’s then-Volunteer Coordinator, Julie, asked me if I’d like to get involved in anything else the Charity might need help with. Consequently, I started a volunteer befriending role, supporting a client via face-to-face outings for coffee or walks, or over the phone. Since then, I volunteered once a week on Reception at Penny Wade House for some time, and helped with several other initiatives on an ad-hoc basis, the most recent being the Health and Wellbeing day held at The Exchange in Twickenham last week.
If you’ve never worked in the charity or social service sector as I hadn’t, getting involved with SPEAR gives you an insight into a very different world, something I have really valued. And although you’re involved in a charity looking after a group of people whose lives are usually challenging and uncertain, it’s often good fun, and always interesting.’
Catherine – Volunteer
“I joined SPEAR’s Volunteering team at the end of 2020. I had been looking around for gardening-related opportunities and was checking local charity websites when I was surprised to see that it was possible to do gardening with SPEAR. I jumped at the opportunity and applied and after some DBS checks were ready to start – weather dependent. Anyway, the attached photo shows what I achieved on my first full project (although with gardening you are never really finished) – this garden was completely overgrown! I really enjoyed making a real difference to the space but would really like a few others to be able to come along and join me. So, if you like working outside why not give it a try.”
Magdalen – Volunteer
I retired from teaching in the autumn of 2019, and in the years leading up to that point I had become increasingly aware of the number of people having to fend for themselves on the streets of Kingston. Now that I had time on my hands, I wanted to do something to help, something more than just putting my hand in my pocket, so I contacted SPEAR. Ever since, I’ve been doing a weekly food collection from the Sainsbury’s at St Clare’s in Hampton Hill, which involves stacking and delivering a car-load of food to the Hub in Twickenham. Last year I became involved in the renovations at the Tollemache Almshouses in Ham – initially a large amount of clearance work, and more recently a variety of odd jobs, gardening and decorating. I also manned a phone for a client satisfaction survey, and have done a couple of individual food deliveries. I know from my own career that time is the most precious of commodities, and I would say to anyone who finds themselves with some on their hands to donate it. It’s good to make a difference, however small, and I’ve met a lot of new people, which has been fun. It’s been a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.
David – Volunteer