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A day working for a Community Benefit Society

Justin Griffiths

Most of the people you see involved in The Furniture Scheme are volunteers who give up their time to serve lunches, deliver courses, share their expertise, sell items in shops and help those in need in any way they can.

These volunteers are the lifeblood of our Community Benefit Society.

But we also have a small number of employed staff who are essential too.

We want you to know these people and say hello when you see them around the town, so we want you to get to know them.

Meet Justin Griffiths, Community Engagement and Volunteer Support Worker.
Justin is based at Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow.

He joined the company in January and is responsible for looking after and attracting new volunteers of all ages as well as ensuring our society engages with the community and facilitating the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project, funded by the National Lottery and the European Social Fund.

My background: I have volunteered and been employed at charities before, so I know what it is like from both sides. I can bring that experience to the role and relate to the people I work with, recognising them as individuals, requiring individually tailored programs and guidance.

What my job involves: I have spent a lot of time meeting volunteers and I have been involved with running education courses too. I am also responsible for helping people gain employability skills; to assist them in finding employment and increase their self confidence.
I have spent time meeting people from other local organisations and creating links with other charities. I even get the opportunity to feed my love of sports by running children’s activities in Craven Arms during the School Holiday.

Regular questions I get: The most frequent question I am asked is “what does a community engagement officer do?” I will often respond with “how long have you got?” My role is many different things to many different people, it is diverse and challenging, which is the main reason I love it so much.

A typical day for me: There isn’t really a typical day for me as I am often out at various places across south Shropshire attending events or meetings.

One day I can attend a committee meeting for one organisation or another, then whiz across to Shrewsbury to attend a partnership meeting, before delivering a talk to a group of people on an education course.

But a day in the office, here’s what I do:

9am – Arrive at work and the first thing to do is check my emails. I will endeavour to answer emails ASAP, but this is not always possible. I then make sure I am prepared for each event during the day – printing documents or preparing files.

10am – Meeting with a volunteer who is a participant on the BBO project. Normally we will have a conversation about how things are going for them.

11am – Meeting with someone who has been referred to The Furniture Scheme from Job Centre Plus. I normally begin these meetings with assuring the person that we are not looking to hurry them into work, we like to “help and assist” people. I then complete all associated paperwork after the meeting.

12:30pm – Lunchtime will see me devouring a sandwich back at my desk, in front of my laptop – checking emails and preparing for the afternoon.

1pm – Meeting with a representative from another local organisation. Usually, I will give a tour of our facility at Rockspring and explain what we do and how we operate.

2:15pm – Another one to one session with a current volunteer, checking how they are getting on, seeing if there is anything I can do to help them improve their experience. This may lead the conversation onto the enabling fund, which is a pot of money we administer in order to help remove barriers to work – this may involve paying for driving lessons or motorbike tests, anything that is deemed to help the volunteer improve their chances of employment.

3:15pm – Another email check and update volunteer files.

3:45pm – Catch up with other staff. A swift chat with my boss, James, to bring him up to date with any developments.

4:30pm – The last half an hour of the day is normally spent checking any last minute emails and working on any bids for funding, for any courses or projects that I want to implement.

5pm – Pack away and switch off lights as another day ends, on the drive home I am already thinking about tomorrow’s schedule!

Something I am proud of since starting at The Furniture Scheme: I had an idea to do a summer programme of rugby activity sessions and wanted to get a celebrity on board. After a lot of hard work and organising that programme came to fruition this summer. We had more than 60 boys and girls benefit and ex-England rugby player and British Lion Tim Stimpson came along to coach them!

An interesting fact about me: I am undefeated in my hobby of “eating challenges”. I have previously eaten 28 Ferrero Rocher in one sitting, followed by a challenge that saw me consume the world’s spiciest chilli. Most recently I scoffed 40 jaffa cakes in one go!

The Furniture Scheme was launched over 20 years ago as a way to ensure some of the most excluded members of the community could benefit from recycled household items – but the society has grown and now offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things.

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

September 20, 2018

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