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Ask Me Community Ambassador Scheme

[Republished from www.cambridgewa.org.uk]

People within a survivor’s community are often the first to know that domestic abuse is happening. But lack of understanding and confidence can make people afraid to talk about it, and unsure of how to respond when someone speaks out. Survivors have told us they can feel judged, silenced or isolated by the people around them.

We are changing that through the Change That Lasts Ask Me scheme, developed in partnership between Women’s Aid Federation England and Welsh Women’s Aid.

The project is a simple initiative that equips community members in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with an understanding of domestic abuse and how to respond to survivors. This knowledge will enable the community to play an active role in ending domestic abuse.

Being a Change That Lasts Community Ambassador

We offer free 12 hour training courses to members of the local community from all backgrounds and identities where they learn about domestic abuse, including its gendered nature, how to challenge the stereotypes surrounding it and how to listen to, believe and direct survivors to specialist support.

Anyone with a connection to Cambridgeshire and/or Peterborough can become an Ask Me ambassador, whether you have been personally affected by domestic abuse or whether you would like to learn more.

After the training, ambassadors are given resources and support to share what they have learned with those around them in ways that feel most comfortable to them. They are encouraged to start conversations about domestic abuse that will help others to better understand the barriers that survivors face in speaking out. An ambassador can commit as much or as little time as they can give.

We keep in touch with Community Ambassadors with new opportunities and events such as ambassador meet-ups, campaign involvement and volunteering. We also send short surveys to find out how they are getting on and how we can support them further.

A Community Ambassador…

… believes in equality of all people, regardless of their gender identity, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, cultural beliefs or circumstances.

… listens and believes others that share their personal experiences of domestic abuse.

… is non-judgmental and respectful.

… is passionate about ending domestic abuse.

There is a chance that we may decide that it isn’t appropriate for a person to take on the role if they don’t share these values and qualities. We will work with people to overcome any barriers wherever possible, or we will direct you to a more suitable volunteering or training opportunity.

Interested? Join the Scheme

If you would like to take part, please register your interest through the online form here: REGISTER INTEREST FORM

Soham Sparks: The Results Are In

Communities Officer Ben Pitt has been working in Soham since September 2018, supporting local residents to enrich community life in their town. It’s been a busy seven months, culminating in the launch of Soham Community Association on 4 April. This group has responded to the need for a new organisation to look after the finances of the local community newsletter. They also recognised a wider need to bring the residents, organisations and businesses of Soham together for the benefit of the town. Their mission statement speaks volumes about their ambition to make Soham a happier, more caring and more connected community.

The launch of SCA on 4 April was the perfect opportunity for Ben to share the findings of the Soham Community Survey. This asked residents what they like, dislike and want to change about their town. The subsequent report aims to establish patterns in the responses, ready to inform and shape future community projects in the town. Read more about Ben’s work on the Soham Sparks Blog.

People Powered Conference Hits the Right Notes

48 people from across Huntingdonshire’s voluntary sector gathered at St Ives Corn Exchange on 19 April 2018 for the People Powered conference. Co-hosted by Hunts Forum and Living Sport and funded by Huntingdonshire District Council, the event was a chance for volunteer managers and community leaders to get together to explore fresh approaches to recruiting, supporting and celebrating volunteers in our communities.

Guest speaker Shaun Delaney, Volunteering Development Manager at NCVO, kicked off proceedings with a presentation on the changing volunteering landscape: who volunteers, how, when and why? How have their demographics and their expectations changed, and what can community groups do to respond to these changes? His talk drew on the NCVO report, Getting Involved: How people make a difference, which you can read here.

Attendees were then invited to participate in workshop discussions on various aspects of volunteering. Keith Smith, Founder & Director of Ferry Project, led a workshop on recruitment and marketing, looking at the various routes people might take into volunteering roles. Mark Strivens, Director of Cambridge Street Pastors, explored what organisations can do to protect volunteers – and the organisation itself – from risks, and covered how policies, procedures and processes need to work together. Susie Willis, Chief Officer at Care Network Cambridgeshire, led a workshop on rewarding volunteers and celebrating success, and reflected on how the biggest reward is to ensure that experiences live up to volunteers’ expectations. Lucy Bird, Coordinator of Somersham and Pidley Time Bank, explained the concept of Time Banking and micro-volunteering, and examined how this model might fit into existing organisations. The conference was closed by Rebecca Evans, Relationship Manager at Living Sport who spoke about how volunteers had helped her in her youth to become a gold medallist swimmer. Follow-up notes and further reading for attendees are available here.

Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. One commented, “Brilliant workshops with lots of ideas to use.” Another wrote, “A thoroughly enjoyable event. A great download of information and ideas in a relaxed manner. A well put together event. I went away with a spring in my step.”

Hunts Forum provides ongoing support for voluntary organisations throughout the year. Please get in touch on 01480 420601, email info@huntsforum.org.uk or visit www.huntsforum.org.uk for more information.

People Powered: Follow-up information

Links, contacts and further reading for the People Powered conference, 19 April 2018

The People Powered conference was co-hosted by Living Sport and Hunts Forum, and funded by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Training

Click here for the upcoming training workshops hosted by Support Cambridgeshire and its partner organisations, Hunts Forum and Cambridge CVS. Most training is free for Hunts Forum and CCVS members. See CCVS’s full programme of training for volunteer managers here, and further resources here.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Our keynote speaker was Shaun Delaney, Volunteering Development Manager at NCVO. They champion the voluntary sector by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary organisations, and work to help voluntary organisations and volunteers make the biggest difference they can. Find out more here.

Read the NCVO Getting Involved 2017 report here. This includes lots of fascinating statistics on who, where, why and how people volunteer in the UK.

Recruiting volunteers

This workshop was led by Keith Smith, Founder & Director of Ferry Project.

The Do-it website connects volunteers with volunteering opportunities, based on location, availability and activity type.

Read NCVO’s guide to recruiting volunteers here.

Supporting volunteers

This workshop was led by Mark Strivens, Director, Street Pastors Cambridge.

Read the Charity Commission’s advice on managing risks here.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s guidance on adult safeguarding is here, with a straightforward introduction here.

Model policies for volunteering (including recruitment, volunteer agreement and complaints policies) are available here.

NCVO’s guide to managing and retaining volunteers is here and includes a section on dealing with problems or issues with volunteers.

Rewarding volunteers

This workshop was led by Susie Willis, Chief Executive Officer, Care Network.

See the flip-chart notes from the conference here.

NCVO’s guide to managing and retaining volunteers is here and includes a section on recognition and reward.

Find out about Cambridgeshire’s Spice Credits volunteer reward scheme.

Find out more about Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) here.

Micro-volunteering

This workshop was led by Lucy Bird, Somersham and Pidley Time Bank Coordinator.

Read Support Cambridgeshire’s introduction to Time Banks here.

Read NCVO’s guide to micro-volunteering here.

Living Sport

Our final speaker was Rebecca Evans, Relationship Manager at Living Sport.

Here’s what people are saying about People Powered:

It reinforced the importance of keeping in contact with our wonderful volunteers. Brilliant workshops with lots of ideas to use.

Good crowd, and an excellent keynote speaker. 

Excellent insight provided into how to recruit volunteers.

We had an enjoyable & interesting day. No matter how much one has learnt over the years, there is always more to learn!