My name’s Jess. I come from a Law background. I did my undergraduate in Law and am doing my Masters in Equality Law at the moment. Alongside my volunteering I work in a Law centre in Liverpool so, it comes from that sort of perspective but obviously I have real interest in the LGBT community as well, being a part of it.
I was looking to move away from a pure Law element, looking more specifically at the LGBT community. I did an internet search and LGBT Foundation came up. I had a look around the website and found that there were so many opportunities to volunteer, and it wasn’t that far for me to get to so I thought I might as well get involved in some way, shape or form and I’m really glad that I did!
Being on the Front Desk, you’re the first port of call for any visitors that are coming into the building, whether it’s people that are looking for support or whether it’s people using the building, so you’ve got to be super-welcoming and have a finger on whatever’s going on in the building so you know where to direct people to. I really enjoy it because very day is so different. There’s not only the face-to-face stuff but we also do helpline telephone and email support. Sometimes people might ring for enquiries, other times people can be in real points of crisis so it’s good to be able to help in such an array of different formats and be involved in a variety of activities throughout one relatively short shift. I really enjoy the variety and the diversity that comes out of each day. The stuff that’s going on in the organisation is so interesting. I came in on World AIDS Day last year which was a bit of a whirlwind but it was so fun, and the atmosphere was so good. Then on other days it’s a bit quieter and you can really focus on the helpline emails and you can dedicate your time and do research to support people so it’s a really good “bit of everything” role I think.
I really enjoy the helpline work because you can see a direct link to how you’re helping. Sometimes you don’t need to do much, just listening and being that sounding board for somebody can be really helpful. I also really like the organisation. Everybody is so welcoming and everyone has such great attitudes towards each other and towards the community that we are all involved in.
Volunteering at LGBT Foundation has given me so many skills. I have been through a couple of training days and the last one with the Helpline and Pop-In Training was so useful and really made me consider my listening skills and how to support people and make sure that I am putting the person at the centre of the service. Those sorts of skills are so useful and so transferable to anything you might want to do. There’s never going to be a job where not going to have to really listen to people at points, so I’ve found that really beneficial. The experience of not knowing what I’m going to get at the beginning of the day or the beginning of a call has helped me to learn to think on my feet and still be considerate, be able to go with the flow and see whichever direction the day’s going in. I’ve really gained a lot from volunteering here, certainly.
If you’re thinking about volunteering with LGT Foundation, go for it. There’s so many different volunteering opportunities, so if you aren’t able to commit a day a week and it’s more of an ad-hoc thing there are roles for you. If you work in the daytime there’s roles in the evenings of one-off Events like Pride. There will be some field or element that suits you and you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Depending on your level commitment or how much you’d like to get involved, there is such a diversity of opportunities so I’d definitely encourage anyone to go for it.