Chinasa’s story of volunteering
Chinasa is on placement for her masters in Social Work. She has a law background, and her lecturer suggested VSS for her placement as it was in line with her experience. Here she talks more about her role as a placement volunteer:
What roles have you taken on since beginning volunteering with VSS?
I’ve practically done everything apart from maybe a management role. The first time we started – we did an online induction process, which I found really useful, as it introduced me to what VSS does.
Following this we did a lot of research in finding companies in areas to help support VSS. For instance we found food banks and I wrote emails to that to find out how we can get on their referral system.
I then started coming to court here in Livingston. I come here once a week and it’s been amazing, the volunteers here are just fantastic. I feel they’ve got this vast knowledge and experience, they are always ready to listen, and I ask a lot of questions. My line manager Steph is amazing at explaining everything in a way that I would understand, she doesn’t use jargon. With the criminal justice system being so different here compares to my home country Nigeria, it’s always good to hear new words, new law terms, and just get to grips with it.
I work in court and when I’m working from home I contact witnesses, service users where I do a brief assessment on the phone to work out what the urgent needs are. Then I do reports and I send to Sarah my line manager.
I’ve also made some Victims Fund applications which were approved. So that’s a good experience for me, as to how decisions are made. I’ve shadowed people who provide support, which was great because I’ve been able to observe and to apply a lot of the skills I’ve learned in theory, into practice. It’s always different to be in that position and experience it, or hear it, the difficult things, the challenges that people have been through.
I was also able to use my supervision to lay down my thoughts, some of things I was hearing were somewhat challenging and I was able to express that in my supervision and Sarah was really supportive.
I’ve learnt a lot, especially my communication. Not just speaking to people as I would do to my friends. To be formal, to be professional, to uphold the ethics of my profession.
What is it that you usually do when in court?
Steph usually puts up a rota depending on how many volunteers we have. There are 17 in total so we usually have two or three in the court.
When I was learning what to do I would go over and just observe what the volunteers were doing and that’s how I learned. So after maybe two or three weeks I was confident enough to speak to the witnesses on my own.
Is there anything you’d say to someone who was thinking of volunteering with Victim Support Scotland, whether that’s in the court or community?
Definitely, come volunteer, everyone does an amazing job here. It’s really hard when people don’t have an organisation to call for emotional support, so I believe the volunteers here do really, really well. The staff just give their all to make sure that people are supported, and I think that’s really amazing.
I would happily come back to volunteer when I am older – who knows?! I love it here. We learn new things every day and we meet lovely people. People should come and volunteer, they would love it.
The staff just give their all to make sure that people are supported, and I think that’s really amazing.
Any particular memorable moments on placement so far?
Recently it was my last day, and Steph gave me a leaving gift. I was really surprised but it was really lovely to be appreciated for the work I have done, I will never forget it.
Any other things about volunteering that you would like to highlight?
To volunteers and staff – keep up the good work and know that you are making a difference.