Voluntary work is a fundamental part of the organisation’s practice. From voluntary committees to practical help with the establishment of services, the range of voluntary worker involvement has been extensive since the inception of Women’s Aid.
BLWA volunteers work alongside paid staff, their contribution adds value to and enhances our existing services. Each year alongside our local volunteers BLWA hosts 3 European Voluntary Service volunteers for 10-12 month placements. In the past couple of years we have had volunteers from Norway, Sweden, Germany Spain and Austria.
Here are some thoughts and quotes from our volunteers recognising the value of and their experience of the work of Women’s Aid:
CURRENT EVS VOLUNTEERS
Ellen (19 year old Norwegian volunteer)
‘I think that Women’s Aid provides a service that is so valuable. Woman and children that suffer domestic violence can feel welcomed in a safe house and get therapeutic and practical help. I think I will learn so much about relationships and how to solve situations with people, although there is probably not one answer for all situations.’
Annkathrin (18 year old German volunteer)
‘I believe women’s rights are very important and worth putting all your effort in to protect them’
I hope to learn as much as possible [at Women’s Aid], about women’s rights, domestic violence, how to prevent it and how to help those who have already suffered from it. Also how to interact with the children who were affected by violence in their family. I think my EVS experience is a unique informal learning opportunity and I want to make the most out of it’
PAST EVS VOLUNTEERS
Alina (21 year old German past volunteer)
‘ My EVS year was a really special year, shaped by the women, kids, staff, new friends … My first thoughts about a refuge was- it must be a sad, depressive and a cold house with many women in crisis. I am happy that I could experience the opposite. It’s a house full of love, peace, warmness and fun. I got to know so many things, from how domestic violence affects children, how it can happen to anyone and last but not least ‘the journey to freedom’. The work was so rewarding and there is something special about this work. At the end of every journey I could see the difference between the women and children’s arrivals and departures and I was proud that I was involved in the positive life changes.’
Michaela (19 year old Austrian past volunteer)
‘The year [with Women’s Aid] was nothing less than brilliant. I have learned a lot. I came to understand the complex issues that affect vulnerable women/families and within my team I learned how to empower and motivate and engage with people in an empathetic way. Also working with young people I learned to appreciate the importance of creative expression of emotions and experiences. Art and culture could be seen as a form of therapy. I have grown a lot working for Women’s Aid and it was a beautiful experience I am grateful for. I am currently in University. I know I want to work in the social field in the future and Women’s Aid has helped me come to that conclusion.’
‘Over the years volunteering with Women’s Aid I have noticed more empowerment by the women against domestic violence’
‘I have been volunteering in refuge at Women’s Aid for approximately 15 years, each day I walk away feeling so proud to be among such strong willed women’