Sandwell Advocacy’s Juanita Williams writes about recent training sessions for potential new volunteer advocates.
As Sandwell Advocacy’s Volunteer Co-ordinator I led our recent training sessions ably supported by the very experienced Paddy Elmore who volunteered his time to support me.
The volunteers all have experience of cancer in some form or another and come from a variety of backgrounds, each of them bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to our sessions. They have working life experience of housing and care homes, nursing, social work, pensions and finance – all valuable assets to share with our group.
The training covered what we do at Sandwell Advocacy: understanding advocacy, the role of an advocate, different types of advocacy, communication, confidentiality, boundaries, working with professionals, dilemmas, personal safety, lone working, case studies and scenarios; the majority of which was specifically related to cancer issues.
It took place over two days and proved interesting; whilst they had lots of life skills, their knowledge of advocacy was limited and this led to great conversation during the case studies and exercises as they considered their potential roles. They have all confirmed they still wish to become advocates on the project even though they acknowledge it may not be an easy ride! They are keen to support others on their cancer journey and want to use their experiences to ensure things go as smoothly as they possibly can.
As referrals are now coming in, it won’t be long before they are matched with their partners and start making a real difference to the lives of older people affected by cancer. We will be on hand to support them along the way and are currently planning further sessions to support them in the future. The good news is that other volunteers are preparing to start their training as soon as times can be found to suit them.
One of our volunteers said she found the sessions “very informative and certainly gave me something to think about. The Macmillan literature will prove useful in the future, particularly the contacts and organisations. All in all I enjoyed it and am keen to get started.”