Featured Student Project Bank partner: Volunteer Centre Dorset

In our second spotlight, Siobhán Davis, Project Coordinator for the Community Credits Scheme, tells us about Volunteer Centre Dorset and the Community Credits Scheme.

The Dorset Volunteer Centre is part of a national network of volunteer centres that help voluntary and community organisations recruit and manage their volunteers, and help people interested in volunteering to find interesting and enjoyable opportunities. The Volunteer Centre Dorset seeks to promote and develop volunteering to all throughout Dorset.

The Community Credits Scheme is focused on people with learning disabilities and supports them to volunteer within their local community by providing a volunteer mentor. In return for volunteering they and their volunteer mentor receive time credit notes which they can exchange for an activity of their choice. This might be learning something from another member of the scheme or buying a session at their local football club, gym or cinema.

People with learning disabilities have been excluded from many organisations in the past and The Community Credit Scheme helps to break down some of those barriers. The Volunteer Centre Dorset successfully piloted The Community Credits Scheme in four towns in Dorset in 2013. They are in the process of extending the scheme to North and East Dorset.

The Community Credits Scheme aims to:

  • Set up volunteering placements for adults with mild learning disabilities and recruit mentors to support them
  • Set up exchange venues in which the credit notes earned for each hour of volunteering can be exchanged
  • Recruit befrienders to support people in exchanging credits if required
  • Support organisations that offer placements
  • Raise positive awareness of people with Learning disabilities.
  • Recruit volunteers throughout Dorset

Volunteers at an awards evening

Why is the Community Credits Scheme so important?

This scheme is paving the way in supporting people with difficulties into volunteering through supported volunteering. The credit scheme is also helping the socially isolated by setting up focus groups and insuring individuals are kept informed about new voluntary placements and events. For each credit a person earns they can exchange it for a health and wellbeing activity. For most of us on a daily basis we find it easy to phone up our mates and go out for the evening. For someone with communication difficulties or travelling difficulties this is huge so we encourage people to live healthier lifestyles, meet new people and step out of their comfort zone. Individuals are learning new skills which are transferrable to the work place. We set up easy, achievable outcomes for individuals to meet which sometimes they have to step out of their comfort zone to achieve. With the support of volunteer mentors/befrienders they can move forward.  For organisations seeking new volunteers this is a huge game changer because support is provided.

 What do you hope to achieve by working with the Student Project Bank?

We are hoping to set up a good working partnership and to include students. We are also looking forward to new ideas being brought forward. We believe that some of Bournemouth University’s students have brilliant skills and knowledge which they could share. This could then be a beacon project in Dorset that we could share with other areas in England. Working with Bournemouth University would be an amazing step forward.

Do you want to get involved? The following projects are available with Volunteer Centre Dorset:

SPB002: Marketing strategy for Volunteer Centre Dorset’s Community Credit Scheme

Create a marketing strategy to raise awareness of Volunteer Centre Dorset’s Community Credit Scheme.

SPB003: Campaign strategy to raise positive awareness of people with learning disabilities in the community

Create a campaign to raise positive awareness of people with learning disabilities in the community.

SPB004: Evaluation strategy for The Community Credit Scheme in Christchurch

Create an evaluation strategy for Volunteer Centre Dorset’s Community Credit Scheme in Christchurch.

SPB005: Volunteering opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities: engagement and experience

Research the ways in which individuals with learning disabilities engage with and experience volunteering.

SPB006: Identify products charities sell to create sustainable income and make recommendations for Volunteer Centre Dorset

Research the products charities sell to create sustainable income and make recommendations to Volunteer Centre Dorset for a product or line of products they could sell to create income for, and raise awareness of, The Community Credit Scheme.

Find out more and apply.