We work closely with local universities and Lancaster District Community & Voluntary Solutions to recruit and train volunteers to help with our work. Volunteers are a crucial part of the day-to-day running of our charity, and can involve user-facing case work, administrative support and other general responsibilities.
This is an especially good opportunity for students (for example student social workers seeking work placements) or for those who are seeking to expand their work experience. We are especially keen to recruit those who have experienced or are familiar with the kind of issues that our service users experience such as drug abuse or discrimination based on their sexuality or gender orientation, as this is integral to the work we do with our peer support groups. However, we welcome volunteers from all walks of life and our inductions involve extensive sensitivity training to the issues our service users experience.
Our staff and volunteers are bound to strict codes of conduct, best practice and confidentiality, and potential volunteers are subject to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) check, though this does not necessarily preclude you from volunteering with us.
If you are interested in working with us, please feel free to get in touch with us for more information.
To find out more about the government’s guidelines about volunteering, click here or, if you’re on Jobseeker’s Allowance or a similar form of government benefits scheme talk to your adviser about how volunteering with us would fit into your obligations.
My Experience With Out In The Bay
Out in the Bay (OITB) is an organisation that supports members of the LGBT community, supports with drug and alcohol misuse and those living with long term sexual health conditions. The support is offered in a range of ways such as one to one support, drop-in sessions, social groups and awareness training. OITB is an all-inclusive organisation that doesn’t exclude anyone who may need help and support tailoring this to the person seeking help. OITB offers volunteering opportunities which include an in-depth training programme which students start their placement with.
It is hard to really pinpoint what you, as a student will be doing at OITB as every day is different. The first week as a student you will be looking at the organisation’s policies and procedures, completing e-training, and reading the service users’ files. I found this to be interesting as it gave an insight onto the work that you will be doing, gave background information on the people you will be supporting and helped you to understand the OITB way of doing things. The idea behind asking a student to read a large folder of policies is to high light that there is some reasons why OITB do things the way they do and to inform you and is professional. I however, did find this to be tedious and I would rather have spent the first morning meeting the team and shadowing other workers and breaking down the policy reading into smaller chunks. The e-training is a great chance to refresh your mind on important topics while working in this sector. I enjoyed the e-training and felt quite proud to have the number of development certificates so early on in my placement.
After you have settled in completed the training you will start to meet the service users. I have learnt a lot from the people that I have worked with. They are a diverse mix of people. I key day was when I spent the morning working with a young person who is going through transition and then spent the afternoon talking to an adult about their identity. You will gain a high understanding of risk and how to manage possible risks safely for the person or for yourself. I had to learn quickly about de-escalation, reasons behind addiction, issues that the LGBT community may face and why they need specialist support from OITB.
At OITB you are given a lot of opportunities to meet other organisations that offer other support to people within the local area. I have recently attended a forum for ‘users’ where professionals are not normally allowed into. This gave me some great insight into what my potential service users may need from me in the future. This also allowed me to challenge my own values and perceptions about this service user group. I feel that you need to be ready for being challenged.
Although OITB does some serious work, I feel that it is important to mention that you can laugh here and not a day goes by without us laughing about something which is a welcome break from the seriousness of the work we do. There is an open atmosphere in the office where I have felt that you can ask about anything, where no question is ever seen as a stupid one and any issues, personal or professional, can be talked about. I have felt so supported at OITB by the whole team.
I have enjoyed my time at OITB although I haven’t been here that long. I now leave with a lot more knowledge than I started with and I know that I can ring whenever I need specialist support in the future.
Thank you everyone at OITB (including the amazing PEs)