The team from Dorset Macmillan Advocacy at Help and Care, Jo Lee, Senior Advocate and Kathleen Gillett, Volunteer Coordinator, recently shared challenges and solutions with colleagues from local volunteer befriending services at The Grove Hotel in Bournemouth (a retreat for cancer patients and those with serious illness) at the invitation of Anita Rigler from Macmillan Caring Locally.
Volunteer advocacy and volunteer befriending schemes are both models of peer support although they differ in several important aspects and the scope of advocacy support is, I would argue, considerably wider. The mechanics of providing a good experience for volunteers through good practice in recruiting and training, matching and retaining are however very similar. For both roles volunteers require highly developed listening skills and an awareness of the importance of the boundaries of the role. A good discussion was held on supporting volunteers when advocacy partnerships or befriending matches are ended.
Having a good understanding of the differences in our services will enable us to signpost and refer on to the most appropriate source of support. We are opening our next volunteer induction training day to the befriending coordinators to give them an indepth understanding of the scope of peer advocacy. The new networking group plans to meet twice a year.
Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Macmillan Advocacy