The Impact of Volunteer Engagement – Elio Ajmone
We spoke to Elio Ajmone, a Community Link Worker with an organisation called We Are With You. His role involves supporting asylum seekers and refugees who are linked to GP practices in different localities across the city, helping to improve their wellbeing, by providing opportunities for them to integrate, and to access the services they might need.
Elio has come across Volunteer Glasgow many times over the years, but during the pandemic he was looking for support for a group of participants attending a 6 week wellbeing course: many of them were asylum seekers who are not permitted to work but he knew that volunteering was a viable option that they could take part in. “I really wanted to offer them that knowledge, the opportunity to link up with the organisation (Volunteer Glasgow) in terms of, not only developing skills but also to reduce isolation – particularly during the pandemic. We were lucky that the organisation agreed to join us for two sessions. Emma came in for over an hour, talking to the participants, explaining what the organisation was about, making them understand how to best access it. The session, although informative and interactive, was done in a very light way – it wasn’t “school-time”; it was done very organically, allowing people to express their view and ask questions, allowing people to have a voice and to communicate.
“It’s refreshing to have someone else coming in, interacting well with the clients and I always noticed that during our sessions, people had lots of questions to ask and lots of ideas to offer or, sometimes one or two who already had experience in volunteering were able to put those points across and I thought those were powerful statements because that would encourage people in similar positions to think, well, this is something I can do too”.
We were really pleased, so much so that, for future courses we would really like to involve the organisation again because I think it is a really good option for participants”.
The main purpose of the wellbeing course is to provide connections for the group and the interaction with Volunteer Glasgow allowed Elio to provide his clients with another strong link to take away at the end of the course – “it’s important, in my opinion, for people to be linked with many good organisations and activities and I was happy that Emma made her contact details available to people as that really took down a barrier and people really appreciate that welcoming aspect, how easy it would be for them to contact that person directly if they were thinking of registering, then they will just be a phone call or an email away from a person within the organisation”.
“To my knowledge, a couple of people who took part in this course have now registered with Volunteer Glasgow, and, during the first course we ran, I noticed that the session really inspired one of the participants to seek a number of volunteering options – so much so that I have already filled out three applications as a referee for the person so that must have hit the spot! Now she is involved with a number of initiatives and I like to think that Volunteer Glasgow had a role in inspiring this person to get out and volunteer”.
“From a personal point of view, my approach with the organisation has been very, very positive – just even in terms of asking them to participate in our programme and see how available and willing to help out the organisation has been – (this) can only be a good sign”.
My recommendation in the future for other people that I am working with or other organisations that I’m linked with, will be that Volunteer Glasgow is a great resource to tap into and to work along with – for their accessibility, the amount of options that are made available to people that want to volunteer – whether they are young, they are elderly, whether they’ve got lots of skills; whether they do not have any skills but they want to build some. Also, it’s good to know that there are people within the organisation who can support someone who is maybe struggling – whether it’s via telephone call, online or even, in the future, having the access to the office where you can see someone face to face and get the support that you need”.
If you’d like to learn more about volunteer engagement, get in touch with Volunteer Glasgow at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If you’d like to volunteer, search for opportunities at volunteerglasgow.org/volunteer/search