Since RSVP (Residents and Service Users Volunteer Programme) began in 2011 it has supported 1160 residents and service users who in total have done close to 30,000 hours volunteering across Wales that amasses to a colossal 15 years of work for the average person with no breaks.
Activities include gardening, maintenance, administration, being part of interview panels, bike riding, consultation groups, workshops and producing ‘Response’ magazine exclusively for service users.
RSVP began after The Wallich sent a survey to its service users and residents about a potential volunteer programme and a resounding 98% said they would love to get involved.
WCVA initially funded the scheme for three years and volunteer roles were developed around activities such as painting, gardening, property maintenance and administrative duties in our Drop In centres.
The scheme has evolved and looks to identify skills our service users already have and develop other skills in areas they may want to learn about.
Stuart joined RSVP in 2013 and has done 700 hours of volunteering. He was a rough sleeper in Bridgend but thanks to support from The Wallich, is now a Receptionist at The Wallich Centre in Cardiff:
Heidi is a Peer Mentor and planning her new creative business and has done 300 hours of volunteering. When she joined RSVP in 2015 she was struggling with alcohol addiction:
“RSVP gave me a reason to get up sober and start doing something to sort my life out. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people in a similar situation which helped with my confidence but also reassured me that there are people out there willing to help, which I never had before, and the support from the staff is amazing.
I also wanted to learn as many skills as possible and I enjoy being around people, laughing and having fun which lifted my self-esteem and I’ve made some great friends that I call family which has helped me to trust and love again. I am willing to try and turn my hand to anything and everything”.
Alex was a resident of our Riverside project and first joined RSVP in 2015 as a way of continuing his volunteering after completing WISE, an employment programme. He is now in full time employment:
“RSVP was just what I needed at the time and I did a lot of writing, visual minutes and promotion work with the Communications and Research teams at The Wallich. One of the best things about RSVP was being treated as a professional again after a long time out of work.
It gave my life structure, provided plenty of new people to be around, it helped me get used to a workplace environment again -all things that’d help me get back into work.”
Sian David, Head of Participation and Progression for The Wallich says:
“RSVP has been instrumental in our mission to create opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness. It has created another way for our charity to engage with our service users in a relaxed and informal way, volunteering can be such a conversation starter. It means we can better understand a person’s needs and create models of support based on what we learn.
We are excited to continue developing RSVP in line with our clients and in different parts of Wales so that more people can learn, build confidence and begin to repair their lives”.
RSVP is just one of the learning and employment schemes that the The Wallich delivers in order to help get people off the streets, keep people off the streets and create opportunities for people.