Project 17

Accompanying Volunteers

“The last time I went [to social services] the way they spoke, it was scary. I wouldn’t want to go back again but when Project 17 send someone to go with me, they were able to stand by me and calm me down, and tell me everything was going to be okay” 

-Anonymous volunteer, 2018.

 

Project 17's accompanying volunteer scheme works with former service-users to provide emotional and practical support to current clients. Volunteers accompany clients to assessments and appointments at local authorities, providing a reassuring presence and taking notes of what happens. 

Project 17 is improving the support and training provided for our accompanying volunteers scheme for 2020. This programme has been running since 2016 and our volunteers have accompanied clients on 131 visits, either to request support from local authorities or attend assessments.

All of the volunteers are ex or current clients of ours who have offered their time to new clients as they make the difficult decision to approach social services. They’re able to draw on their personal experience with local authorities to provide emotional and practical support.

Our volunteers take note of what is said and by who, question refusals of support and most importantly, demonstrate to clients that there is someone on their side.

One client noted that “when [social services] hear the name Project 17, they buckle up.”

The feedback we have received from the scheme is overwhelmingly positive, and many of our clients who approached social services alongside a volunteer went on to become volunteers themselves. Clients commented on how they “felt really supported” and “reassured.” Our volunteers also gain a wide variety of skills from this scheme. During feedback sessions, many spoke of their improved English speaking and writing and others spoke of developing their communication skills more widely. We are delighted that this scheme is restarting and we welcome any suggestions.