The power of volunteering is something that Victim Support’s new Head of Volunteering, Mary Curnow, is very much an advocate of. She’s seen many times the incredibly positive impact it can have on people in need, communities, organisations, and the volunteers themselves.
“Volunteers believe in what they are doing so strongly they are prepared to do it in their spare time and fit it around work, family, and financial commitments that they may have. They are making time in their daily life to do this, so that motivation is very strong, and usually driven by a very real passion,” says Mary.
Mary has been immersed in volunteering through an otherwise varied career covering different sectors including conservation, social services, education, and work with police.
“It’s really been the strand that’s connected everything,” she says.
Her role with Thames Valley Police, where Mary spent eight years, was to be an important contribution to the integration of volunteers into community policing in the wider UK.
She is proud of this contribution toward bridging the gap between police and local communities.
“Police saw that they really needed to engage much more with their communities and one way of doing that was by enabling volunteering opportunities within the police service.”
Mary is clearly excited to bring her passion for volunteering to Victim Support.
“Victim Support started as a volunteer led organisation and it’s important to recognise that, in terms of where we come from and where our roots are.”
I see my role as working towards bringing a consistent, quality volunteering programme where volunteers feel recognised, valued and supported. We also want our victims to feel our volunteers have provided a really high quality service.”
With Victim Support’s ethos of providing support with heart, Mary sees volunteers as continuing to be an integral part of our ability to provide a truly relationship-based service.
“Volunteers fulfil a really important role in that as members of their community, they can come alongside people in a way that sometimes staff can’t,” she says.
“They’re often also highly connected to their communities, which can be of great help in providing access to wider local networks and support, as well as bringing in a whole heap of diverse skills which can be a great benefit to the organisation.”
Mary acknowledges it’s a tough environment in which to recruit volunteers but says volunteering for Victim Support can offer a unique sense of belonging and opportunity to make such a positive difference to someone’s life.
“I’m hoping we can provide a real feeling that they’re part of something, as well as a fantastic way to gain in skills, learn about the justice system, and self-develop. You learn an awful lot about yourself through volunteering.”