“Many thanks for the support and kindness you have shown throughout your time with her (AVoice service user)” partner agency worker
“You being an advocate for TH, made things much more manageable” partner agency worker
“Thank you for your help, I’m grateful for everything you have done. I hope your service will go on to benefit others” AVoice service user
“Without my advocates help I would have sunk into a state of depression, it’s kept me level and grounded. With some-one in my corner, with knowledge and expertise it has helped me to stand up to my Housing Association. I feel that without my advocates help they would have reduced this to a minor neighbour dispute and not taken me seriously. Without my advocate they (perpetrators) would never have been served an acceptable behaviour contract it was my advocate’s persistence on my behalf that forced the Housing association to act. Keeping all the paperwork, is not something most ordinary people would be able to do/organise. I’m glad advocacy support from the police is in place, I wrote to the Duty Sargent at Avon and Somerset to say how grateful I was for all the support from the police and AVoice. I am thankful to the OIC (officer in charge) for signposting me to Lighthouse and for Lighthouse referring me to AVoice. Whether the outcome I wanted at the outset was met, is immaterial, but without having an advocate I would have been vulnerable to everything. I sometimes felt very shaky and was worried that I would crack under the stress of it all. I would have been lost without AVoice and would have been fighting a losing battle” AVoice service user
“Thank you so much for coming today to be with us for the meeting. It was so kind of you and great having you here. I think that’s it so important that you attend these multi-agency meetings on behalf of victims as you bring an open approach to them and I think that the agencies have to think more about solving things when you are there!” AVoice service user
“Advocacy, has been a great help to co-ordinate the facets of this issue, and having a positive slant, communicating with me what was going on, showing me there are options and choices rather than just a dark tunnel” AVoice service user
What motivated you to get involved with AVoice volunteering?
I got involved with AVoice for a number of reasons. I wanted to do something meaningful alongside my normal part-time job, which is convenient and flexible but not very fulfilling. I was keen to get involved in my local community, and was also interested in gaining new skills, to broaden my prospects for employment in the future. I work as an editor and felt that my skills in this field could be useful to advocacy.
Tell us about what you do for AVoice at The Care Forum.
I’m a volunteer advocate. I’ve been paired up with a paid advocate, and we work together on cases involving people with additional needs who have become victims of crime. I think one of the main ways I’m useful is being the additional person in initial meetings with clients. Safeguarding rules mean advocates have to go to the first meeting with new clients in a pair. I feel as a volunteer, I’m taking the strain off the advocacy team by being that second person. In some cases, the relationship with the client continues as I get more involved with the case. I also come to The Care Forum office sometimes to do case work with my buddy advocate.
Tell us about the support and training you have received.
I received four days of training before starting volunteering. This was really useful and I found it hugely interesting too. I’ve never volunteered before, or worked in mental health or associated areas, so everything was new to me. I found it personally very interesting and also vital for the volunteering role I’m doing now. We covered the meaning of advocacy, safeguarding, mental health and a number of other areas. I now receive excellent support as a volunteer from my Volunteer Support Officer. The Care Forum is obviously committed to looking after volunteers.
What have you personally gained from being an AVoice volunteer at The Care Forum?
I’ve received some training in a completely new field, and have broadened my horizons by being involved in some fascinating cases. I’m not sure what I’ll aim to do as a job in the future, but it has been very valuable experience for me. I’ve also met a lot of interesting people. I find it definitely spices up my week!
What has been the most rewarding or the most interesting case you’ve worked on? What was the outcome?
I went to court with a client who was being harassed and threatened by a neighbour. She wanted someone there with her for support while she was giving evidence, so I went along with my buddy paid advocate. Sadly she didn’t get the outcome she’d hoped for, but it was a process she needed to do and it felt good to help her get through it.
What would you say to people thinking of volunteering with The Care Forum’s Advocacy Services?
I’d say they should go for it! Volunteers receive high-quality training and the opportunity to get involved with some very interesting work. I don’t have a lot of spare time each week, but I can fit it in around my other commitments. I think it’s really valuable for both the volunteer and the people who use AVoice’s services.