Volunteers’ Week 2021

A mug of tea which says 'What good shall I do this day?' on the mug

1st – 7th June marks Volunteers’ Week

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the millions of people who give up their time to help their communities and non-profit organisations. We want to say a personal thank you to those who have volunteered for our charity over the past year (and every year!) – your work does not go unrecognised.

As part of #VounteersWeek, we asked Sue Sutherland, Step One’s Chair of the Board, and Virginia, a peer support volunteer at Step One to write a guest post about their thoughts on volunteering for our charity.

Read on to see what they both have to say about their roles here at Step One.

Sue Sutherland – Chair of the Board of Trustees at Step One Charity

For anybody that doesn’t know already, what is a trustee?

“A Trustee is an individual who works with a group of Trustees who come together to ensure that the charity’s work is of public benefit, the charity fulfils the purpose for which it was set up and in addition Trustees manage the resources of the charity responsibly to ensure that money is wisely spent on the charities purpose.”

What does your role involve?

“Typically, Trustees form a Board that meets at least four times a year with the Chief Executive and Finance Director and other staff. We agree on the strategic plan for the charity and monitor the ongoing delivery of the plan. Trustees also participate in Board sub-committees. At Step One we have two. The Quality Assurance and Improvement Committee and the Finance Committee each meet at least four times a year. Each one is Chaired by one of the Trustees. The Committees spend time drilling down into more detailed information, for example looking at the quality of care we are delivering to our beneficiaries and reviewing in considerable detail the charities finances. Trustees have a number of legal responsibilities to fulfil such as filing accounts etc. and are responsible for the appointment of the Charities officers, in our case we have two – the Chief Executive and the Finance Director.

As the Chairman of the Board, I have the added responsibility of ensuring that the governance structure (the people, the committees etc.) are fit for purpose and I work closely with the CEO, we meet every two weeks, to ensure that Step One is running well.”

What inspired you to become a trustee?

“During my career, I had benefited from lots of development opportunities, I originally trained as a nurse, a midwife and an HR professional, I have had loads of Board level experience in various health organisations and a big University, I am passionate about delivering great services to people and I wanted to be able to use the skills and knowledge I had gained in a voluntary capacity to help others.”

What do you enjoy the most about your role?

“It is a real privilege to lead a team of volunteers (Trustees) and work closely with our wonderful CEO. I know that Step One makes a real difference to so many peoples life’s and that there are always more ideas and ways we can develop to help more people.”

What particularly interested you about Step One Charity?

“I love the fact that we help people across Devon to manage their mental health and take control of their future and that we do this by providing support in employment, health and social care.”

Can you tell us your fondest memory about working with Step One Charity?

“My proudest moment thus far has been seeing the implementation of the BeWell@StepOne programme and the associated fundraising strategy, this will, in my view help so many more people and we should be rightly proud that we are doing more for more people.”

Finally, with it being Volunteers Week, what do you have to say to someone who is considering volunteering?

“It is a privilege to be able to use any skills you may have to help others in any way that you can and it is very fulfilling. You will certainly feel good about yourself and rightly so, this country would not function so kindly and compassionately without the thousands of volunteers who support people on a daily basis.”

Virginia – Peer Support Volunteer at Step One

Why did you volunteer for Step One Charity?

“I was invited to go to Step One by a great friend, I enjoyed the social aspect and before I realised my old teaching habits came back into play. I loved the fact that I could help people again by integrating them into workshops and to assist with problems and offer a caring supportive empathetic hand.

My background as a florist and a teacher of crafts was the ideal way to integrate into the busy groups. I found by helping others I was able to help myself as I had been recently diagnosed with M.S. and my life was different than before.”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

“To be part of such a caring intuitive group was ideal for me. I know it is not what we do but the taking part which enables learning in many ways. Volunteers join a group of like-minded enthusiastic people. We care both for each other and also in embracing new people. A session of happy banter is so good for us, it lightens the load of daily living and everyone leaves the sessions feeling happier!”

What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering?

“So to anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer I would say step forward, have a go, the rewards are plentiful. Your life will be enriched and never worry you only take on as much you like – no pressure!”

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