All posts in “Volunteering”

Volunteers get their hiking boots on

A huge thank you from SNAP to our volunteer Bev and the Port Talbot walking group “Best Foot Forward” who, with a little help from Port Talbot YMCA, got their hiking boots on to raise over £400 in a sponsored walk up Pen-Y-Fan for SNAP Cymru .

The sponsored walk was organised by parent Bev Simmonds who volunteers at SNAP Cymru at our Neath Office, as part of our anniversary celebrations this year. 2016 marks 30 years since we were commissioned as a charity and began our mission to help empower Welsh families and help ensure their children with special educational needs were receiving appropriate education and support. 

When the local walking group ‘BFF’ (Best Foot Forward) heard about the event, they jumped at the chance to get involved. The group, which is run by volunteer walk leader Miranda Podger, is linked to NPT Councils ‘Lets Walk’ initiative (run by Claire Jones). The group meets outside the Lido at 10am on Tuesdays, for a short walk for beginners and on Fridays fora longer walk of about an hour. ‘It’s a great opportunity to get some exercise, make new friends and enjoy our beautiful seafront’ said one of the ladies involved.

The walkers began gathering sponsors a few month ago with the aim of getting at least £20 each, however they were all surprised by the generosity of  people, including the regulars at ‘The Burgess Green’ who all put their hands in their pockets. One of the group members June raised over £80 single-handedly and has to be congratulated for her hard work.

Every one enjoyed the day – there were some complaints about sun burn the next morning, but the highlight of the day for everyone was when Tressy, who despite almost quitting halfway up, made it to the top and choose to take the long way back saying she felt and incredible sense of achievement .

“It never would have been possible without the Port Talbot YMCA” said the event organiser, “they generously offered to lendus their minibus to get us all there and even let us use one of their ‘Adventure Club’ leaders so that we had a trained outdoors “mountain leader” in case anything went array. We can’t thank them enough and the support they gave us”

For further images and links to the story please see>

https://www.facebook.com/events/1511457942494348/permalink/1540631506243658/

 

SNAP receives Investing in Volunteers quality standard for the third time

What a birthday present for SNAP Cymru!

In the year that SNAP Cymru celebrates 30 years of providing services to families in Wales, the organisation is extremely proud to have achieved the prestigious Investing in Volunteers quality standard recognising the excellent work carried out across the organisation in supporting, training and developing volunteers.

Over 200 volunteers provide a range of services to advance the education of people in Wales and support their inclusion. This is the third time SNAP Cymru has achieved this award.

Denise Inger, Chief Executive Officer SNAP Cymru said.

“Achieving the Investing in Volunteers accreditation for the third time is fantastic. The accreditation process keeps us on our toes and up-to-date. It helps identify how we can continue to improve and develop the way we support and train volunteers in a variety of roles and activities.  Investing in Volunteers demonstrates SNAP Cymru’s  dedication and  commitment to sector best practice and  helps to recognise the amazing work volunteers do throughout our organisation and in the local community. We would not manage the high demand for our services without the support of our amazing volunteers who generously gift their time delivering high quality services to families, children and young people. I am very proud of all of them and can’t thank them enough for all their hard work.”

GOLD Duke of Edinburgh Awards for SNAP Young Ambassador’s

SNAP Cymru are delighted that two of our Young Ambassadors, Osian Frobisher and Joel Clements, have been awarded their Gold Duke Of Edinburgh Awards during ceremonies at St James’s Palace; attended by the Earl of Wessex and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Naval Airman, Osian Frobisher, was given special leave by his Royal Navy instructors at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall, to travel to London for the ceremony, where he was presented with his certificate by Prince Edward and Carol Voderman – an Honorary Group Captain in the RAF.   Osian has volunteered for SNAP Cymru since primary school, helping design information for other young people and supporting events, particularly those where he used his Welsh language skills.  Osian joined the Royal Navy in June after graduating with a Degree in Police Sciences and completed the five sections for his Gold Award while he was an Air Cadet based with 360 Llwchwr Squadron, 3 Welsh Wing.  The 24-year-old used his love of rugby to complete the physical element of the award.  He worked in the local community to fulfil the voluntary requirement, supporting SNAP Cymru and helping to run his Air Cadet squadron as a Civilian Instructor and then Sergeant, passing on skills to the younger Cadets.  For the residential element, Osian took part in a United Nations Youth Exchange project working with young people from other countries with the Forestry Commission in Wales.  He also represented the ATC visiting a village in Japan, where he helped to build a community centre.

Joel Clements is currently studying TV and Film Production at the University of Portsmouth but managed to fit in his trip to the palace between his studying and his passion for long boarding and representing Hampshire at Ultimate Frisbee. Joel completed his Gold DofE with Carmarthenshire Open DofE group, completing the volunteering element of the Gold Award through mentoring other young people to complete the Bronze DofE Award.  Joel’s residential element was completed at SPREE Wales Children’s Camp where he worked as a Service Crew Manager. Joel volunteered with SNAP Cymru whilst a student at Gorseinon College where he studied Creative Media, putting his video skills into action filming short clips of our volunteer team. Hopefully these will appear soon on our website to encourage others to participate.

Both Osian and Joel put their time and skills to good use as Young Ambassadors for SNAP Cymru and we wish them well in their future careers.  If you know a young person who may be interested in volunteering for SNAP Cymru, we’re looking for bright, passionate individuals, who want to make a positive difference in their schools and local communities. We can offer them a chance to:

  • influence local and national policy affecting young people’s lives
  • meet and socialise with other young people in the Young Ambassadors
  • have access to plenty of training opportunities and a chance to develop key skills
  • have a great addition to their CV’s – great for college and university applications

Don’t just take our word for it! See our volunteering page http://www.snapcymru.org/get-involved/ or call us at 01554 778288 for more information.

SNAP Cymru offers a Place of Sanctuary for Cardiff volunteer Jenny

SNAP Cymru has been delighted to  welcome Jenny to our team as part of a partnership with the Sanctuary in Wales project.

Jenny is originally from Kuching in Malaysia. After flying from Singapore to London Heathrow with her siblings; two younger sisters (one of whom is at primary school and one is about to enter high school in Newport and an older brother), she initially arrived in Bournemouth, where the International Care Network (ICN) gave Jenny advice on seeking asylum status. From here she travelled to Croydon, Cardiff and finally to Newport.

The Welsh Refugee Council in Newport directed Jenny towards the Sanctuary at Bethel Church and Oxfam’s Sanctuary Project Co-ordinator Jenny supported her integration into SNAP Cymru.  This project offers refugee women and women seeking asylum, training and work placements enabling integration into local communities and helps tackle the issue of isolation, for one of the most under-represented groups in the current labour market.

Jenny has been able to continue to practice her piano skills at her home in Newport after being given an electric piano and personal lessons. Jenny has subsequently achieved a Grade 5 Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) certificate at both theory and practical level. Furthermore, Jenny has also passed the TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) as part of a Cambridge University course in partnership with the Sanctuary Project and helps to translate Chinese to simple English to help support workers at the Sanctuary in Bethel Church.

SNAP Cymru was approached when Jenny searched for volunteering opportunities on the internet and found us.

Jenny was understandably nervous when she first came to us, but has been able to improve her everyday communication skills and confidence significantly. As such, she has quickly adapted and thrived in her role, successfully completing any tasks she been given.

Jenny has now been in Wales for ten months and though, currently unable to gain employment she finds volunteering very fulfilling and a great way to gain experience, meet new people and simply help out. Most importantly, she feels she is part of our team and, quite correctly, is making an important contribution.

Interview with SNAP Cymru Volunteer Soraya

Recently I had the chance to sit down and have a small chat with a friend called Soraya who very recently joining SNAP Cymru as a volunteer. We discussed why she wanted to join SNAP Cymru and what this opportunity means to her.

Why did you choose to apply for volunteering here?

“I believe that young people are the future, I think that it is important to help those who are disadvantaged at a young age now. I also think that this is a great place to get valuable experience of working with families”.

How do your values match those of SNAP Cymru?

“I want to use my own knowledge and motivation to help young people fulfil their own potential and I know that SNAP share these same values”.

What do you hope to gain my volunteering?

“I would perhaps like give help to young people on how to start a business. I have some experience in this area so I hope to be able to provide some advice on this, if it is limited. I also see volunteering and working with SNAP as an opportunity to help fight stereotypes and assumptions which people may have about those receive support, yet are untrue”.

– You mean the distorted viewpoints perpetuated by sources such as the tabloid press?

“Yes. I don’t think people realise how challenging it is for people from disadvantaged or poorer backgrounds to get out of their situation without some degree of help”.

What about SNAP and the area it works in appeals to you the most?

“I believe we have to care for young people now because if they get lost at this this young age they may be lost forever. For example, some parents who are less well off financially need help so they fulfil their children’s potential”.

Do you have experience of a young person in your family facing discrimination which impacts their ability to participate in society?

“Not within my own family, but I remember at school I witnessed several of my classmates were taunted because of their sexuality. This was at a time when people were less open minded about such issues and I didn’t think much of it or understand it then as a small child. However I know that this resulted in depression for some of them and other long lasting effects”.

Welcome to our New Intern – Maxwell Dean

Here are some of Max’s thoughts about his first few days with us…

SNAP Cymru is a charity which aims to empower families and young people in Wales who face discrimination or exclusion due to learning needs, poverty, deprivation, disability or language by providing accurate information, objective advice and support. This can relate to a wide range of issues including assessments, statements of special education needs, bullying, school attendance, exclusion, health and social care provision and discrimination. Other services they provide include advocacy (through their independent service; About Me), disagreement resolution and training for young people, parents and professionals.

Wmff is a new online platform where young people can seek advice and support, including videos of personal stories where young people tell about their past difficulties, but most importantly how they overcame them. These stories involve experience of bullying in education, work or being out of work, education or training. Information on your legal rights under the 1989 UN Convention on The Rights of The Child is also set out. As such these stories were quite inspiring to myself. SNAP Cymru hope to develop the website’s forum in the future but through an exclusive app assistance is currently available on call whenever a young person needs their support. The website also has several useful links to other informative websites.

My time with the organisation has been very positive and supportive so far. The level of responsibilities I have been given shows a confidence in my abilities. This is despite my own problems with speech, which continue to be a personal barrier to many employment opportunities. This also speaks volumes about their approach and values toward young people with special needs and how they empower them through these. Through this opportunity I can find my voice; here my problems don’t prevent me from fulfilling my potential. They recognize the skills I do have, rather than the ones I have yet to further develop. Using both this experience and the confidence I have gained from undertaking a recent careers course, the GoWales Graduate Academy, I know that I have the ability to achieve much more in the future.

The most positive and indeed, greatest mutual impact of this is I have invaluable and real work experience in a working environment (something I know employers are looking for within a competitive jobs market) while helping the organisation achieve its aims and objectives.

A warm welcome our new NEC volunteer – Peter Hosking

Actually Peter isn’t really new, he has been involved with SNAP Cymru for almost 20 years, firstly as a parent who received advice and support to ensure his daughters special educational needs were met and then he came on board as a as a trained Independent Parent Support volunteer and was one of the first to participate in our accredited IPS training.  When a vacancy occurred we were thrilled that Peter was appointed as a Development Officer for SNAP covering a large part of Mid Wales and later became the our All Wales Training Manager.

Peter lives near Swansea and has four, now adult, children. A fifth child, Bethan, was born with a life limiting condition and has passed away. Previously he worked for many years in education, both in secondary schools and universities in Wales as well as in the Middle East.

We were delighted when Peter left SNAP in 2001 to become the first Policy Officer with the newly established Children’s Commissioner for Wales.  However, his contact with SNAP continued as the Children’s Commissioners office signposted callers to SNAP.

The reform of SEN/ALN policy is one of Peter’s major interests, particularly the introduction of the children’s right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales.

Peter says that:

“Being a parent of a child with special educational needs can be confusing and frustrating without the proper support.  The great value of SNAP is not just that they help to arrange the support a child needs but they challenge the preconceptions of parents and encourage them to consider those who control resources as partners – rather than adversaries – in getting the right provision.  This relieves a great deal of stress for both parents and local authority staff.

The current financial situation means that resources in local authorities are at an even greater premium – a situation that is likely to worsen over the coming years.  The role of SNAP Cymru in providing mediation between parents and local authority staff is even more necessary – while becoming even more difficult.”

Peter decided to re-join SNAP Cymru as a member of our NEC following his retirement from the Commissioner’s office.

We couldn’t be more pleased to have Peter back on board!

Celebrating Volunteers Week 2014

“You make a life by what you give”

An amazing 80 SNAP Cymru volunteers received a certificate signed by the First Minister, the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones (AM), acknowledging their outstanding contribution to volunteering in Wales.

As part of Volunteers week in early June, SNAP staff gave a massive ‘thank you’ to all their volunteers who continually amaze us with their dedication, hard work and skills.

Volunteers are critical to the success of SNAP Cymru. Recent research shows that for every £1 invested in SNAP, we are able to provide approximately £20 in return on that investment – our volunteers are a huge part of that. Their skills, hard work and professionalism really inspires confidence in SNAP Cymru.

Investors in People assessors say we have;
“Exceptional engagement from a volunteer workforce who gauge what they get back from their efforts in terms of positive personal development, self-esteem, confidence and recognition, rather than in monetary terms… Such volunteers are exceptionally motivated and engaged. They are treated equally and are considered invaluable to the organisation. There is exceptional support and development offered to the volunteer workforce and there are many examples of people whose lives have been turned around through the experience of volunteering.”
Pam Tanner, IIP, 2014

Families and professionals across Wales value our volunteers and see the impact of their work;“On behalf of myself and the family, we would like to give special thanks to your volunteers who supported the family during the process. Without their help, the family would have really struggled throughout.  It was a huge learning curve for myself also, having never been involved in this process before.  It was a brilliant result for the child and I cannot thank you all enough!” 


So once again, we’d like to thank all our volunteers for:
  –  helping sort, organise and label all the donations we’ve received these past few weeks for our brand new shop venture
–  the wonderful job handling calls and supporting families across Wales
–  every time a family is helped to understand and make sense of paperwork or have the confidence to express their views
–  patient business support and detailed help with accounts and administration
–  getting out our leaflets and information for families across local communities
–  delivering training sessions with humour and expertise
–  helping steer us through with business and strategic expertise
–  supporting and caring for each other and for helping the whole team to make the best of their talents and skills
…and everything else our volunteers do for us!
Thank You
From Denise, The NEC and All the Staff

SNAP Cymru recognised with prestigious award for volunteering

Today, SNAP Cymru are celebrating being announced as recipients of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012. We are the only exclusively Welsh organisation to receive the award as recognition for our unique role, on a national scale, to advance the education of people in Wales and support their inclusion. This new award embodies the triumph and elation of this Diamond Jubilee year by recognising the hard work, commitment and generosity of volunteers within national organisations to change Britain for the better.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said “The list of recipients of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for Volunteering 2012 reads like a Who’s Who of some of our most important charities and voluntary organisations. It is a testament to the enduring strength and immeasurable contribution of volunteers over the past sixty years”.

  • The sixty organisations honoured today with The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for Volunteering 2012 have built their success on the dedication and generosity of thousands of extraordinary people, each of whom has devoted their time and energy to the simple aim of making their communities – and their country – a better place. Day-in, day out volunteers are making a contribution to every aspect of our society – working with the elderly, supporting young people and reaching out to those in need. Volunteering is as fundamental to British life as rain at Wimbledon or the local pub – and what better way to recognise it than with an Award from Her Majesty in her Diamond Jubilee year.

    Martyn Lewis CBE, Chairman, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012 Committee
For SNAP Cymru, this one off, truly unique award exemplifies the hard work of our dedicated volunteers who are the backbone of the organisation and have made us a significant national charity. Chief Executive Director of SNAP Cymru Denise Inger said “ SNAP Cymru is led by volunteers who give their time, expertise and skills to promote inclusion and enhance education for children, young people and families. Each year around 200 people give their time and expertise. Volunteers are the life blood of the organisation; they make a huge contribution to our work with children, young people and families.

To receive this award, during the Queens’ 2012 Diamond Jubilee year, is even more special; SNAP Cymru staff and volunteers across Wales, will all celebrate our Queens’ recognition to their work with children and families. Volunteering is a two-way process; we value people’s time and commitment. In turn we offer opportunities to share and gain skills, knowledge and expertise through practical and work based accredited training; SNAP Cymru volunteers make an important contribution to our work in communities”.

Lindsay Brewis, avid volunteer and SNAP Cymru’s volunteer Vice Chair said “Volunteering involves both giving and getting so it is the best of both possible worlds. While I freely give my time and expertise, I get the support and warmth that working with dedicated staff and other volunteers gives, as well as training and monitoring to keep my skills up to date.”

Sean Sullivan a volunteer from the South West and Mid Wales team said “I am so proud to be part of SNAP Cymru and to be with them to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Services during 2012, the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee year. I have gained so much from volunteering; SNAP Cymru has provided me with a completely different outlook on life. From being a recluse at home – after being my father’s carer for several years, volunteering for SNAP Cymru has got me out of the house and helped me with my socialising skills; which were at a low ebb, due to bullying at school which caused me to leave school early and even whilst I received home-tuition the bullying still continued. These experiences left me with severe anxiety and depression and a serious lack of confidence in myself. I didn’t even have the confidence to socialise with the public, my own siblings and I remained isolated at home for several years.
On arrival at SNAP Cymru, I didn’t even have the confidence to answer the phone or even join the staff on their lunch-break. I have now been volunteering as a Project Support Volunteer carrying out administration work for SNAP for around 5 years and during this time I have gradually regained confidence and my self esteem has greatly improved.
Volunteering for SNAP Cymru is one of the best decisions I have made; through volunteering I have had many training opportunities, and have gained accreditation for my learning. I better understand myself and can empathise with other people after attending courses on SEN, Respect Diversity in the workplace and Partnership with Families.
With the support of the Regional Administrator, Mrs Pat Shinner, I now have skills in Administration and Finance; volunteering has boosted my confidence and enabled me to deal with the public, to be included”.

Buckingham Palace will be holding a reception next year for recipients of this Award which SNAP Cymru will be attending to celebrate the past ten years of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Past and present volunteers as well as staff are invited to join in with our celebrations of the announcement of The Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for Volunteering by posting on our social networking sites and joining in the celebrations throughout the coming year. If you, or someone you know is interested in volunteering with us click here to find out more.