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RAB gets new Volunteer Coordinator

RAB has a new volunteer coordinator Hannah Padgham joining the staff team from 1st October

: A lady with short reddy brown hair and brown eyes. She is smiling and wearing black glasses

Hannah Padgham joined RAB in October as the new Volunteer Coordinator.

Originally from Kent, Hannah has lived in Reading for about 15 years. She resides in Caversham with her husband, two sons and a black Labrador called Raven. Her eldest child is 13 years old and her youngest son is 10 years old and attends a Special School for children with Autism.

Hannah went to university in Nottingham where she studied social sciences and met her husband. They moved to Sheffield for his work, and then to Reading to be closer to her family in the Medway towns.

In both Nottingham and Sheffield, Hannah worked in the voluntary sector in Community Centres for a total of about ten years. On moving to Reading she did lots of volunteering herself, joined her Parent-Teacher Association and volunteered for the Scouts management committee. She also became a Cub Scout leader as “Akela” the leader of the wolf cub pack.

Scouting reminded Hannah that voluntary work should be fun and should mesh with one’s personal values & motives for volunteering.

“I’m a believer in flexible volunteering,” she says. This could mean breaking up an unfeasibly big voluntary role into smaller bits and sharing them among several people; or rethinking how an activity could be provided. “I don’t like volunteers being overloaded and feeling tied to things they don’t like. Each person has their own amount of time they have available for volunteering and 11 this can change over time. A great volunteering experience is enjoyable and serves a purpose!”

Hannah adds:

“I’d like to bring this belief to RAB and help build on the fantastic volunteering already here. Covid-19 gives a chance to reflect and adapt — if it makes sense to do so. Technology can certainly help at the moment — once you have got used to it. It can come to the rescue of people who get isolated and perhaps cannot access services. It’s important to make sure they’re involved”.

To start with, Hannah will be establishing that we have all the right paperwork in place for our Volunteers and setting up an easy way forward to maintain it.

Her aim is to make it as painless as possible for everyone.

“A lot of the time, it’s just a matter of me getting written down what we already know works and is safe.”

Hannah says.

“Even things like training can be as easy as watching a short video sat at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit at a time that suits the volunteer.”

As she has only just started at the RAB, Hannah has not yet had much contact with the volunteers who play such a big role in the association’s activities.

Getting to gradually know them — through email, virtual meetings and phone calls — will be a priority. But she says she is already “impressed with how dedicated and thoughtful they are,” and offers “a huge thank you”.

She expects to learn from volunteers how their roles are structured, what successful work they’d like to do more of, and what gaps there might be in service provision.