Volunteer key duties and responsibilities

Admissions procedure

The volunteers are responsible for welcoming new residents, though staff may complete most of the necessary paperwork.

The admission process is very important for new residents as it sets the stage for their stay.

House meetings

Each house holds its own house meeting. On average these are held once every three to four weeks. Normally attended by one member of staff, the residents and volunteers get the opportunity to raise any issues or queries that they feel are important. Rotas for shopping, cooking and cleaning are decided at House Meetings. Volunteers are expected to participate in each of these duties. This way, residents and volunteers take the responsibility for how the house is run. These meetings are minuted. The outcome of these meetings is passed on at the weekly Volunteer meetings at the main office.

Volunteer meetings

The volunteers attend a weekly meeting every Wednesday with office staff, to give feed back on how the houses are running. These meetings are run on a house-by-house basis.

These meetings provide updated information about policy and practice, as well as sharing ideas and ways of dealing with particular issues that may arise in the houses.

House finances

The volunteers are responsible for the petty cash held in the house safe. This money is used to purchase some food and day to day items, such as replacement light bulbs etc. The house accounts are checked each Monday at the main office. In some cases volunteers are also asked to look after residents' individual money to give out when they ask for it. Volunteers will be given some in-house training from the Finance Officer in organising the accounts for the house.

Evictions

Though the Cyrenians try to avoid this, disruptive behaviour may lead to an eviction. A fourteen-day or seven-day notice is given to the resident, and if things have not changed by the end of that time, the resident is evicted. Only staff can authorise an eviction, but they will take into account information from and the feelings of the volunteers.

Communication

As the Cyrenians' representative in the house, volunteers are responsible for feeding back information to the office about what the on-going situations are within the house. Volunteers have an important role in creating the community within the house, and having an ear for the residents. When residents first come to the Cyrenians they can on occasions adopt the attitude that the volunteers are there to solve all of their problems. It is important that volunteers explain that they are not counsellors. However they should be prepared to spend time listening. Volunteers are often looked upon within the houses as role models.

Residents may also need support and guidance to be involved in outside activities and encouragement in tasks that they may find difficult. Some residents can at times become disruptive or aggressive, and volunteers will have to deal with the effects of this within the house. Sometimes the residents and events within the house may be very demanding. However the house can also run very smoothly.

Dealing with incidents and emergencies

Staff are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the case of an emergency. Staff can be summoned at the push of a button on the offices mobile phone.

Volunteers are also given a list of appropriate contact numbers when they first arrive. Staff can be contacted on these numbers for non-emergencies, such as advice. During the week there will be a period of time that the volunteer will be on their own within the house, that would be due to their co-volunteer taking their allocated days off. When this occurs there will be a greater presence from the staff team at the house. If however a volunteer has any concerns then they must inform the staff so that more support can be provided.

Scope for development of the role

The possibilities for volunteer's development within Cambridge Cyrenians are there. However the role is demanding and responsible. The role stays basically the same, but different situations may arise whilst working with individual residents within the houses.

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