An SSI case manager joined a diverse panel at the “Volunteering for All - Trends and Tips” forum last month to discuss and explore the positive effects of volunteering.
The forum was hosted by NSW peak body The Centre for Volunteering at Customs House, on March 25. SSI case manager Marcela Hart, who was nominated to sit on the panel by colleagues, said the event had a particular focus on building the capacity of the volunteer sector to recognise, respect, manage and support people from diverse backgrounds.
“The forum’s main objectives were to promote and support social inclusion and diversity in volunteering,” Ms Hart said. “The forum participants aimed to explore, inform and recognise the benefits volunteering activities have for individuals of diverse backgrounds, with a focus on multicultural backgrounds.”
Ms Hart was put forward by SSI’s Community Engagement team to provide the perspective of a case manager who has experience supporting asylum seeker clients to find meaningful volunteering activities.
“I have had many clients involved in voluntary activities with great success,” Ms Hart said. “Actively looking for volunteer opportunities for clients, in a range of areas, has given me a good understanding of what barriers people seeking asylum face when looking and applying for volunteer roles.”
Ms Hart spoke at the forum about the importance of clients having meaningful roles when volunteering to promote a sense of worth and belonging, as well as to support improvement in their English and other skills.
“I spoke about how diversity at the volunteer base is a great way of promoting mutual understanding,” Ms Hart said. “I also spoke about basic barriers to volunteering, such as transport costs, which for our clients are a deal breaker due to their extreme financial hardship.”
“I said it was important for an organisation to have a diverse volunteer base as a way to gain access to a larger community and to enrich their skills base.”