My name is Jo and l am a volunteer with Victims First Northumbria.
I want to tell you a little bit about myself, why l decided to volunteer, and my experience as a volunteer.
I am 46 years old, married for 21 years and l have 18 year old triplets. I am a registered nurse with over 20 years of experience, most of which has been in A&E and trauma. I love nursing, l love being able to help others, and l have loved my career, but an accident at work has left me with a back injury. This injury has impacted on many aspects of my life, with my career taking the brunt of this impact. This has resulted in me taking a break from my working life. I felt completely lost, with no real purpose. Taking a step back though allowed me to look critically at my life and look at what other kinds of career options could be out in the world waiting for me to discover.
I was getting bored at home and needed to do something proactive. l decided some voluntary work could be beneficial and came across an advert on a jobsite for volunteers for Victims First Northumbria. I hadn’t heard of them, so l did some research and found out about the organisation and the services that they provide. I got an interview and was offered a position as a volunteer. Since then l haven’t looked back.
VFN has given some great experiences and training. I had a thorough 2 day induction. Access to online training, and l have had the opportunity to attend additional training on Domestic Violence, Rape Crisis and Mental Health. I have represented VFN at a number of events promoting the service, and met some pretty amazing people.
VFN has also opened the door to a new job for me. After completing training, and getting my own caseload of victims to support, l updated my CV to include my volunteer role at VFN. Suddenly, l started getting invites to job interviews. I recently attended an interview for a role with a charitable organisation that support female victims of domestic violence, and their dependants. I was offered the position and in receiving the feedback from my interview, l was advised that the training and experience with VFN was influential in offering me the job.
I love my role with VFN. It is up to me how much time l offer. I can help offer practical solutions and signpost individuals to other services and support networks, or l can just lend an ear. When a victim tells me at the end of a call that they feel like a weight has been lifted, or that they tried something that l have suggested, and it offered a solution, it feels good to know that you are making a difference. Now l can use the training and new skills and knowledge l am gaining through my work with VFN to help me in my new job. It’s a win for everyone.