Volunteering into employment – Healthwatch North Yorkshire

3 June 2021
healthwatch logo + gemma

Guest blog from Gemma Hutcheson, Communications Officer at Healthwatch North Yorkshire.

My role as the Communications Officer at Healthwatch North Yorkshire is an extremely versatile role. I manage the website, and social media channels, as well as dealing with online queries from members of the public. The day-to-day role includes monitoring local health and social care pages, creating and scheduling social media posts, managing the website – making sure it’s up-to-date, and dealing with enquiries from the public. I really enjoy the fast-paced nature of the role and how it allows me to get creative.

I became a Social Media Volunteer for Healthwatch North Yorkshire in April 2020. I liaised with the volunteer officer and she provided me with set tasks. I proofread and edited documents, created content and edited reports.

I found out about the role on Community First’s volunteering page. I regularly monitored the Community First page for volunteering opportunities in social media and communications. Prior to finding the opportunity, I was not aware of Healthwatch North Yorkshire as an organisation – so it was a really good way of finding out more information about local organisations and opportunities.

I applied through Volunteering in North Yorkshire. It was a really easy application process and I found that there were lots of opportunities advertised on the page. I particularly liked how I could filter the results and find volunteering opportunities that met my requirements.

I really wanted to volunteer as a way of boosting my employability skills. Communications roles can be hard to get into – so volunteering is a great way of boosting skills and adding to the CV. I also wanted to volunteer to give myself a sense of purpose – during the pandemic, it was difficult to find work and I found volunteering gave me a great opportunity to give back to the community and keep myself busy.

I decided to apply to become a social media volunteer at Healthwatch North Yorkshire as I wanted to contribute to driving brand awareness and use my communication and creative skills. I believed that it would give me the opportunity to use social media in a professional capacity and I would develop an understanding of how brands use social media to drive awareness and engage with an audience. I wanted to boost my social media skills, and this is one of the elements that attracted me to apply for the volunteering opportunity at Healthwatch North Yorkshire.

Volunteering at Healthwatch North Yorkshire enabled me to learn about Healthwatch as an organisation and really understand who they are and what they stand for. I believe this really helped with my employment. Also, I think being proactive and open when volunteering really benefitted me when moving into a full-time role at Healthwatch North Yorkshire.

I have a friend that works for a charity in North Yorkshire, and she told me to look at the Community First website for volunteering opportunities. I knew I wanted to volunteer but it was a bit daunting, and I was unsure where to start looking. I found the VINY page easily through a quick Google search and I was really impressed with how easy it was to apply for volunteering opportunities.

I would tell anyone that is thinking about volunteering to do it! It is a great experience and a really good way of boosting skills. Whether you want to give back to the community, do more with your spare time or develop employability skills – there are so many different volunteering opportunities available. Volunteering is a great way of meeting new people and building relationships. I never could have imagined that starting out as a volunteer would end up with me, employed as the full-time Communications Officer at Healthwatch North Yorkshire.

Further help and support

Volunteer recruitment – if you have new volunteer opportunities to share, add them for free on our online database, Volunteering in North Yorkshire.

New enquiries – if you need support with any aspect of volunteer management please complete a New Enquiry Form and one of our developments officers will be in touch to support you.

General info – for general information, guidance, templates, online training and resources please visit our dedicated website, which includes 15 factsheets that cover many aspects of volunteer management e.g. recruitment, supervisions and template policies etc.

If you have any further questions or need support with any aspect of volunteering, please do get in touch volunteersupport@communityfirstyorkshire.org.uk

Volunteer co-ordinator network meetings – a network meeting for volunteer co-ordinators and those in a charity with responsibility for volunteers across North Yorkshire to network and share information, advice, tips and thoughts on all aspects of volunteer management, see here for more information.

Facebook group – if you have not already done so you may like to join our closed Facebook group for V-Net. The group now has over 100 members. The group is for people to share their thoughts, actions and questions on all aspects of volunteer management. You will need a Facebook account to join, please contact us if you need guidance on this. If you already have a Facebook account please click here to join.