Our Place are celebrating Volunteers Week. This week is all about expressing our gratitude towards the individuals that contribute their time and experience into making the organisation what it is.
Barry has been a part of the Our Place team for close to 10 years, with an eclectic background including teaching, working for an organisation that supports people with learning difficulties, working in a prison, and running a pub for 16 years with his wife.
He set up a job club with his friend that aimed to offer employment advice to the community, and was then introduced to Kelly, becoming a member of the Advice Cafe. This was not long after the financial crash of 2011, when there was a real need for support and for a place where people could seek friendly advice.
Now named the Advice Service, Barry has seen it grow from four advisors to 11 and is proud of the ways it has developed. He enjoys the variety of people who walk through the door, never knowing who you are going to help or what they would come in for. He has a lot of respect for the community and values the Advice Service for always trying its best to deal with cases and offer the security and privacy that they need. When they don’t have the answers, they will make sure the individual is correctly signposted to the right place. He says: “we can always get help from each other and we work very well as a team”. The advice service operates collectively to make sure each individual within the team is supported and makes the best choices they can.
Barry is a kind and humble man who, even when asked to talk about himself, prefers to talk about the Advice Service as a whole. He represents the ethos of Our Place: the work he and the advice team do are not in service to themselves, but to the community and to each other. He was primarily drawn to volunteering because you get to help people and learn many different points of view and experiences that you wouldn’t have known otherwise. “It’s good fun being useful to other people”, “you’re committing yourself to something important” and there is a lot of joy in that.
Barry has made many meaningful relationships through his time as an advisor and has a wealth of fun memories. He recalls lots of days of fundraising and team-building. Our Place operates through a lot of hard work and dedication, but fun and laughter is definitely weaved into the organisation too. He is delighted to be a volunteer for Our Place and has complete admiration for the care and help he receives from Kelly, Jo and the team. He absolutely recommends volunteering, as there is always more to learn and more people to know.