Full Time Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers at the allotmentCambridge Cyrenians recruit up to six full-time volunteers at any one time to live and work with the residents of our two short-stay and one long-stay houses.The volunteers are responsible for the day-to-day running of the houses, but are supported by experienced staff, both during and outside office hours. Volunteers receive pocket money, their own room, time off, holidays and appropriate training and support. The position can provide valuable work experience and suitable entry requirements for degree level courses.

We recruit volunteers throughout the year and welcome applications at any time. We are particularly keen to receive applications from people with disabilities.

The Houses

Cambridge Cyrenians has ten separate houses providing supported accommodation, three of these accommodate eight residents and two live-in volunteers apiece. The short-stay houses do not accept people just for an overnight stay. Most stay something between a few weeks to one year. In the long-stay house residents can stay for several years. The volunteers and staff support the individual residents to maintain their current accommodation, but also in preparing to move on to longer-term, more secure, housing.

We accept both men and women into our houses; however most of our residents are male. Residents tend to be in the age range 20 to 45, though we accept those much younger and older.

Life as a volunteer

A volunteer and clientThe volunteers are the people who are immediately on hand for the residents. It is to the volunteers that residents initially look to help and advice, sometimes to deal with some very personal issues. But there are also many practical things that volunteers are called upon to do, such as; organising cleaning, ensuring there is food in the house, dealing with callers, requests for information, preparing rooms, or even sorting fused lights. Volunteers need to do a lot of thinking for themselves and act on their own judgement. There is support on hand, but it will be up to the volunteers to contact staff if they feel that they need help. Volunteers can also draw on the experience and support of their 5 co-volunteers who are an important source of information and advice.

For most new volunteers this type of work can be very different from anything they have experienced before. New volunteers need to be prepared to adapt to a lot of changes. At times the houses are very settled, with the same group of residents living together for a sustained period of time. Things can be very quiet. At other times there may be a high turnover of residents and the houses can be a lot more lively.

Comments for previous volunteers

"I enjoyed meeting lots of people from various backgrounds, whether they are workers or residents. If support was needed, it was given readily. The level of responsibility was high and that is important when you are working in this situation. This has helped me grow as a person and to help people to help themselves and not to do everything for them. My greatest achievement was knowing that I can overcome difficult situations and having the confidence to face them. It can be mentally draining and stressful but the end result is very rewarding."

"I think I am becoming more streetwise and am learning about a completely different way of life- a way of life which I knew existed but had never really had much experience of."


The set up

Accommodation

All the houses are within walking distance of the city centre.

Volunteers are allocated their own single room within the house. The facilities are basic, but everything is in the house that you need.

Hours of work

There are core hours during which the volunteers are required to be present and available in the house, or on other duties. These are 9-10.30am and 4-7pm, on the days they are on duty. There are also meetings during the week that volunteers are expected to attend and various other duties that make up part of their daily routine. Volunteers do not need to inform staff or residents of their whereabouts when they are off the project, but they have a responsibility to let them know when they shall return, using the system that is in place.

Time off, days off and holiday

Each volunteer has 48 hrs off each week and there is a volunteer's house that they can use to get away. They can take friends there, but not residents, ex-residents or would-be residents. Days off can start at any time during the day, but volunteers are expected to have agreed these days off in advance with staff and their co-volunteer. They must also insure that they leave sufficient time to complete a hand over to their co-volunteer, before starting their break. Volunteers are expected to return from days off no more than 48 hours after their start. On arrival of a new volunteer, the co-volunteer is expected not to take any days off for that new volunteer's first week. This would normally only be expected to happen once during a volunteer's stay. Volunteers may take a week off every 10 weeks. For this they receive additional pocket money and some travel expenses.

Staff support

Staff visit each house most days and are available at the office should volunteers need any advice or guidance.

As well as providing support during normal working hours, staff are on call, in rotation, at all other times. The Finance Officer, helps the volunteers with the individual house accounts. Additionally to this there is a Mental Health Outreach Team and Older Homeless Project Worker who work independently of the accommodation service, but can provide on-going support for residents.

Volunteers can receive one-to-one supervision or group supervision if required.

Allowances

Volunteers are paid £45.00 pocket money each week. Food is provided and bills are included except for private phone calls, for which they can buy phone cards from the office. Travel expenses are paid to and from the project of up to £60.00 when arriving and leaving the project and when taking holidays. An additional allowance is paid at the end of your stay of £10.00 for every month on the project.

Insurance

Cambridge Cyrenians Employers Liability cover extends to include the volunteer, but it does not cover personal belongings. Anyone thinking about bringing items of value, such as a laptop computer, ipod, camera, bicycle etc. should consider taking our personal insurance, or leaving items of value at home.

Meals

Within the long-stay house there is one communal meal cooked each day (normally an evening meal), and the residents and volunteers take it in turns to cook. Volunteers are expected to eat with the residents. Meals in the two short-stay houses are less structured, with residents often cooking for themselves except on Sundays where residents take it in turn to cook a communal meal.

Vegetarians can be catered for, as can any dietary requirements.

Smoking

The smoking regulations no longer allow residents to smoke in the communal areas of their houses, but volunteers should be aware that they will still be required to enter bedrooms on occasions, where residents can smoke.


Induction and training

Induction

There is a four-week induction period during which time you will learn about your responsibilities and the weekly running of the house. The Volunteer Co-ordinator and your co-volunteer will guide you through this. There are also written policies and procedures with which you will need to familiarise yourself with.

Many ways of dealing with issues will not be written down, and these you will simply pick up as you go along. There is quite a lot of peer support around for volunteers. However, do take the opportunity to check in with the office if you have any queries, especially within the first few weeks. At four weeks the Volunteer Co-ordinator and the Supported Accommodation Manager will review how you have settled in at the house, and also to establish whether you would like to stay on.

Training

Training is available, and we will attempt to ensure you have attended the most important courses in your first 12 weeks. These can include Dealing with Violence and Aggression, Mental Health Awareness, Understanding, Substance Abuse etc.


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.


What to do next

If you are interested and wish to know more about becoming a full-time volunteer please contact us using the details on the Contact Us page.

Prospective UK volunteers will be invited to visit prior to any offer of a placement. This is your introduction to Cambridge Cyrenians and an opportunity for us to decide whether we think you would be suitable as a volunteer and also an opportunity for you to decide if volunteering with Cambridge Cyrenians is for you. Visits must include at least part of one weekday to enable you to meet all of the relevant staff members.

Prospective overseas volunteers will be offered an interview by SKYPE. If you don't have SKYPE, you can download it for free from the Internet.
Non-EU applicants will require Cambridge Cyrenians to provide a Certificate of Sponsorship and to obtain a visa. In addition, as of April 2015, all non-EU applicants will also be required to pay a health surcharge of £150 to £200. This will need to be paid to the Home Office at the same time as applying for a visa. The surcharge will entitle non-EU volunteers to access the National Health Service in the same way as a permanent resident. The Volunteer Co-ordinator can provide further information about this.

All volunteers will be required to provide proof of ID, normally a copy of their passport, before being made an offer, and sight of their passport again on arrival.
Non EU applicants also need to add a scan of the photo part of their passport to their application.

You can print off the application form [PDF].

The application form is also available in Microsoft Word.

 

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