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Volunteer Centre Blog

Hello and welcome to the Volunteer Centre Derby blog. The aim of this blog is to keep you up-to-date with the ongoings of the centre, how our volunteers are doing in their roles, and how our learners and users are getting along.

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Paul: LMW and Missing Family

Monday 27 April, 2020:

Well here we are into our fourth week of lockdown and slowing running out of jobs to do in the house and garden! We have decorated, tidied, cleaned, vacuumed and mowed.  

I had only been with Community Action as a Digital Champion for three weeks before they stopped having clients coming in. The clients that we see use a learning programme called Learn My Way, which covers the basics of computers and how you can use them. It is only a brief overview and something I might look at is a follow-on course with MS Office, starting with Excel. The idea being to learn enough to feel comfortable using Office, not to be an expert. That’s a project for later.

Like a lot of people, I am missing my family. Text and video calls are not the same as giving someone a hug. “Don't it always seem to go. That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?” (guess the song). We all take for granted the simple things in life and this lockdown might help us refocus on each other.

Hope you are all keeping safe in these difficult times.

Trish: Lockdown!

Monday 6 April, 2020

Hi All

How our lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks! Here’s what I have been up to during week 1 of LOCKDOWN.

Having always been an early riser, my normal day would start around 5am – the day would be packed full until around 9pm, when I would eventually stop.  Nowadays I struggle to get up before 8.30-9am and, as if in slow motion, things that I didn’t even register doing before fill the best part of the morning – housework, ironing, cleaning, preparing meals.

I have taken to writing a diary. Not only will it be something to look back on when all this is over but it will help me remember what day and date it is – these days very easily blend into one and I lose track of time! I did manage to remember APRIL FOOLS DAY and caught my partner – he went into the utility in search of a mouse!! After a photograph and a little time, I enlightened him on the date!!!! Hilarious … for me anyway!

To keep reasonably fit I have a strict routine of exercise: once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We currently live in an apartment and only have a balcony, which is certainly better than nothing; but I so miss a garden. The view from our apartment is over Derby Cathedral, where the resident falcon lives and any day soon will be laying eggs – I believe they have cameras up there which will be activated as soon as the key to unlock the camera is found! In the meantime, type into google vc57uk or visit their YouTube channel to see action from previous years.

My iPhone has become like another limb: it brings friends and family together like never before. I FaceTime my grandchildren most days: they are so accepting – life has changed for them so much yet they seem to have all adjusted well.  Once a week my tennis pals get together via Zoom and we have an hour or so of quizzes and games – another great way to keep focused and the boredom away!

Keep safe everyone


Paul Green: My First Client

Monday 9 March 2020:

Today was my second session as a digital champion. As Jeanette was off today, the plan was for me to shadow Gary. However, the 11:00 client turned up at 10:00. Instead of Gaynor waiting for an hour, Gary suggested that I start the process off.

Gaynor is not familiar with computers and does not have an email address. So, the first job was to create an email address and get her registered on Learn My Way.

As this went well, I suggested that I carry on and take the session. After a brief chat it was decided what subjects we would initially cover and then review.

We started with Using Your Computer – there are four courses in this. The first one being Using a keyboard, which was completed.

That was all we had time for this session. A further session was booked for Monday 9th.

I was not expecting to take the session this week, but it went well and Gaynor said she enjoyed herself.

Now that I have my own client, I will be able to monitor her progress.

Khadijah: My First Week

Thursday 5 March 2020:

It’s my first week at Community Action. I am working as a Reception and Admin Volunteer. My job requires answering lots of incoming phone calls and helping visitors sign in and out. Other little tasks I’ve been introduced to include booking appointments, admin duties, assisting visitors with their queries and sorting the notice board.

I’ve been volunteering since I was a teenager. My recent role was during University where I worked as a Volunteer Sales Assistant in a local charity shop. Sorting clothing and stock, putting items for sale and taking payments at the till were just a few of the many duties I was assigned with.

I’m volunteering at Community Action Derby as I would love to boost my confidence, skills and gain some experience in Admin and Reception work. My aim is to find full time employment in a role within the Human Resources field. I believe that this experience will be very valuable for my future and help me to gain an insight into the world of Admin duties.

Paul Green: My First Day

My name is Paul Green and this is my first blog as a Digital Champion – or, as I prefer, Digital Hero – for Community Action. Today I shadowed Jeanette, who was seeing three clients.

Monday 2 March 2020:

David H

This was David’s last day, as he has completed the modules that he wanted to. David just wanted help on email and how to use the internet. From last week’s session with Jeanette, David was having trouble with Yahoo email. We had a look at it today and it seems okay, so it might have sorted itself out without our help or it could have been the difference between an upper- or lower-case letter. David left with his certificate and Jeanette will ring him in two weeks’ time.


Unlike David, Sephia does not have a computer but uses a mobile phone to access the internet. She has completed Online Basics previously and now moved on to Online Safety which was completed this session. The next module that Sephia wanted to start was More Internet Skills, which was only just started. Sephia will pick up her certificate for the modules she has completed when she next comes in. Last thing to do was she informed her work coach of the training session.

David B

Having completed Job Hunting, David moved on to Public Services module and is now working through this unit. David uses the audio function with headphones, as he struggles a little bit with reading and finds headphones more comfortable to use. He will pick up his certificate on his next session.

This was the first time I have done any voluntary work that involves training. All three clients were completely different in what their abilities are and what they wanted to achieve. David H wanted just some help with email and basic internet access. Sephia has some knowledge of IT; she just needed the confidence to progress further and get back into work at a later date. David B does struggle with computers, but the course is helping him.

A new initiative that Community Action Derby is launching soon (4th & 11th March) is Achieve Your Potential. Instead of just IT training, this will have access to a range of options – help with your CV, IT skills, improve communication & improve your wellbeing.

So that was my first day. It must have gone well, as I am booked in next Monday. Then I will shadow Gary & Doug to see a different style of training.

Trish: Why I began Volunteering

Trish is a Reception & Admin Volunteer. She once had lunch with Boris Becker... Well, she didn't really have lunch with him. They just happened to be eating in the same room! She did wave at him, though.

Monday 10 February, 2020:

My name is Tricia. I moved to Derby in September 2019. I started volunteering at Community Action in October 2019, doing Reception and Admin work. 

My reasons for joining Community Action was in the first instance to increase my reception and technology  skills, to get to know Derby and the surrounding area with a view to volunteering in different sectors, and to meet new people.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Community Action Team. The Reception role is very diverse, with such a lot of interesting tasks and responding to the individual needs of the member of the public, who is looking for anything from hiring a room for a meeting to booking a Learn My Way tutorial. There is always someone there to help if you are unsure or need assistance with a technical problem. In December a number of the volunteers got involved with a “Pantomime”, which was enormous fun and was aired on Derby Sound!!

Through Community Action I have discovered different volunteering roles – I am a volunteer “meet and greet” at St Peters Church, and in my most recent role I am training to be a mentor at Children First Derby.

Stef: Universal Credit

Stef does reception, admin & advising here at Community Action.

Wednesday 18 December, 2019:

Today my volunteering experience was very challenging and at times complicated. I have been a volunteer since March 2019. I am an advisor, so I help individuals find volunteering roles, which I enjoy a lot, as I enjoy helping people. Today I helped an individual with something different to what I usually do, but I learned from it at the same time.

A gentleman wanted help with filling out an application form for universal credit. He wasn’t familiar with computers and didn’t know where to start with it. I am familiar with computers and I still found the process and some of the questions very stressful and frustrating at times. I did feel sorry for the gentleman, as even he said without my help he wouldn’t have known how to do it. That opened my mind and I was thinking about other people out there who are in the same situation as the gentleman today. 

This was the first time today I had filled in the form for someone. I am so pleased I have experienced this as I now know for next time the process of it and how much time it all takes. I could hopefully prepare the individual better next time.

I found the process very challenging, as the gentleman came in on his own, as he was the one who was claiming. After we had filled in the details about him, it then asked for details of the person who he lives with and gave us a claim linking code, but it wouldn’t let us process any further. The gentleman had to go and get his wife from home so she could fill in her details. Then the account would be a joint account.

At the end of it all, I felt relieved that we had finally managed to complete the application, and the gentleman was very pleased too.  

Stuart: My Volunteering Experience

Stuart, who is on the Prince's Trust Team Programme, is currently here on placement as a Reception & Admin Volunteer.

Wednesday 11 December, 2019:

My volunteering experience has been interesting. I have developed my current skillset, including my customer service and admin skills. I also learned how to use technology I didn’t know how to use before coming here, such as using the franking machine.

Community Action provides a wide range of opportunities for anyone who wants to volunteer with little to no limitations on the opportunities that are given. This is a positive, as it gives everyone the chance to find what they want to do and experience actual work experience in that field

My greatest challenge at Community Action has been getting use to using the telephone, as the telephone layout has been different from previous telephones I’ve used, especially when it comes to transferring calls to staff members.

I volunteer at Community Action to increase my current experience in reception and admin work to help prepare me for a full-time job within the business admin work sector.

Community Action has helped trained me in common office equipment, which will benefit me when I start full-time employment.

My role at Community Action is Reception & Admin Volunteer, so I’m the first point of contact for visitors as they come in the door - I always greet them with a smile. I also handle incoming calls and direct them to the appropriate staff member. If the staff member is not in then I take a message and then email the staff member the message that has been left.

From my time at Community Action, I have learned about databases as well as the definition for signposting, how Community Action does it, and how it benefits them.