7 Days Volunteer's Week - 7 Years of Volunteering

Helen Wilkinson, DVSC’s Chief Executive says:

Wayne’s inspiring story rightly kickstarts our Volunteers Week celebrations for 2019.

Wayne has volunteered for over 7 years in and around Denbighshire and he has been a really key figure at DVSC providing invaluable advice, coaching and support to individuals and creating enormous social value to DVSC and our services.

Wayne was at DVSC when I started over 3 years ago and chats with him on a Friday afternoon before or after Open Doors were one of the highlights of my week.

Wayne is a fun, sensitive and warm-hearted person and he has played an instrumental role in DVSC’s Active Inclusion projects; which provided learning and skills development opportunities for people who needed advice and support to build confidence and skills to bring them closer to the jobs market. He was also a founding volunteer for DVSC’s Open Doors Club, a volunteer led community space to meet new people, develop skills and enhance individual and group wellbeing which takes place 1-3pm every Friday at the Naylor Leyland Centre, our volunteer wellbeing hub in the heart of Ruthin.

After a week in mid Wales walking in the hills and mountains at the start of Spring, Wayne spent some time reflecting on his volunteering journey – what he had learnt, what he had gained and why it felt the right time to take some time out. After 7 years, he is taking a sabbatical from volunteering to spend time with his partner, and to enjoy long weekends away, but before he did, he responded – as always – with a warm and generous heart – to my final request to share his volunteering highlights with us.

Read Wayne’s inspiring and humbling story below and follow in his footsteps 😊


The Reasons I Started Volunteering 6 Years Ago

My name is Wayne Trestain, I started volunteering with the Clwyd Alyn Housing Association. I stopped working, and after 4 weeks I was bored and didn’t know what day it was. About this time, I was asked if I would like to assist their digital coordinator visiting extra care homes, showing the residents that there’s nothing to be afraid of when using a computer. We also showed them how to get onto the internet. Some residents thought it was some strange mythical beast, and they were amazed at how easy it was to get connected. I was happy helping out, being the assistant. But one morning the coordinator was unwell, and she asked me to take the lesson. I said no at first. I didn’t think I was good enough. But she said I would be fine. And I was. I loved it! Showing people how to make a difference in their lives.

One Door Closes Another Opens As in all walks of life, things changed the job structure was altered and I wasn’t needed to help anymore. But as the subtitle says one door and all that. I found I was good at teaching and enjoyed it very much. I got a phone call from DVSC in Ruthin. They had heard my name and they were opening a new project. I was asked if I would like to join, I said yes, and I was so glad I did.

We ran a two-pronged programme: one part was a walk in off the street in the White Rose Centre in Rhyl. We were called Open Doors.

I loved that work. You had to think on your feet because people would come in with all sorts of problems. And when you manage to solve the problem, they were having trouble with, they would look physically happier, and that’s why I carried on volunteering.

We helped lots of people but some you remember more than others.

A young lady came into us with a bad eye condition. She had her own iPad but couldn’t use it. I set it up for disability assist. But I noticed she still wasn’t happy. I asked her; “what’s wrong?”. She said she still couldn’t see the writing on her browser because it was too small. When I showed her how to pinch out the screen to make the writing much larger, her face changed, and she had a smile from ear to ear.

We had a married couple come in. They needed help with signing up to Job Seekers Allowance. Her husband was Spanish. He was learning English but as yet not well enough to sign on. The wife asked if we could help. The only thing I could think of was to make a word document with the sign-up procedure in picture form via screen grabs off the JSA website, and text boxes one with English words and another text box in Spanish. So, he could follow the sign up procedure. This made a big difference to his life.

This is what Volunteering is about. If you have a skill, or knowledge that you can pass on and make a change to someone’s life it will make a change to your life as well.

The other side of the new project was working in conjunction with local Job Centres. The Job Centres arranged for 6 people to attend the BBC First Click courses. They were held on a Monday morning for 3 weeks. These clients were people that had been or were about to be sanctioned by the Job Centre for not doing a job search properly.

Volunteers like me went through the training course and we taught all aspects of IT work that would help people in their job searches. We showed people how to do anything from CVs, cover letters, and where to write in the universal job search website to show you were applying for jobs; which was the main reason people were sanctioned because there is just a small box you need to write in to show the job Centre you have been looking. The first week people were struggling, and I think if they had a choice they would have given up. But by week three you could see the change in people. They were confident, able to use a computer, and do job searches properly.

DVSC Ruthin, Yet Another Door Opens

Three years ago I was asked if I would like to start a Job Club in Ruthin at the Naylor Leyland Centre in Well Street, Ruthin by Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council. The task was to set up a Friday afternoon club to help people do proper job searches, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. If people didn’t tick all the right boxes within the job search you could be sanctioned, which might result in the benefit being stopped. We also helped with IT training such as writing CVs, setting up email accounts, teaching people about working between browser tabs. Many people would have their universal job search account open, but to apply for a job they needed to send an email, so they closed the job search to open their email account. Sometimes they lost the information they needed to send in the email. To someone that is OK with IT it sounds simple, but to many people the ability to work between browser tabs changed the way they did their job search. They could apply for more jobs in a quicker time. We also showed them how to copy and paste. This is a very useful skill to teach as again it can save the client time not having type everything out multiple times. And the thrill of seeing someone that was struggling with IT when they came to us, change before your eyes into a person that is confident and in charge of what they are doing with IT is always amazing.

I can give you some anecdotal evidence of how we changed people’s lives.

We had clients come to us that were lacking in confidence in life for one reason or another which is why we had to be so careful so you can encourage them to come back the next week, and then the next, and so on. But through encouragement they started to learn the skills they needed to apply for jobs; to write their own CVs and eventually get a job they applied for. This always gave me a sense of pride that you have helped in some way; changing their life for the better.

Two clients in particular stayed in my mind. Client 1 came to our club, very shy. They sat in a corner and said they would prefer to watch. But they came back week after week, and slowly we got them to turn a computer on, and then showed them how to use the mouse. There is a great website for mouse training call Senior mouse.net http://intouch-2000.net/seniornet/exercises/mousepractice.html. This will teach the client the basics for mouse usage.

Two years later the client applied for a job and got an interview. They were very nervous so we did a mock interview at the club, so they were familiar with the type of questions they would be asked. They got the job. And still come back to the club because the support doesn’t stop when things are OK. They can always come back to Open Doors when they feel the need or when they want to give something back.

Client 2 came to us with confidence issues. They had some IT skills but were unsure whether they could remember them. Again, we moved slowly letting them gain in confidence. Sometime later they wrote their CV and applied for a job similar to what they had done before, got an interview and then got the job.

These successes are the reason we volunteer and offer some of our time to hopefully help someone and make a change in their life for the better. And in offering your time seeing how people are really grateful for show them the skills and knowledge they need to make a difference in they own lives.

If you are inspired by Wayne’s story, why not join #DenbighshireVolunteers and get involved? Or pop into Open Doors.

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