IAASC has recently welcomed a young gentleman from a special education centre to help us at our POhWER Birmingham office.

The story begins one evening when 2 ex-colleagues decided to have a catch up/reunion recently to see how things were going since they last saw each other.

They got to talking about their working life and what had changed since the last time they saw each other. One of these colleagues happened to be a regional manager for POhWER. They discussed their respective jobs and, as it happened, they discovered their offices were within a stones throw of each other!

An initial meeting was set up with the manager of the vocational centre and the regional manager from POhWER to discuss how mutually beneficial it would be for both parties to work in partnership with each other, with POhWER offering a volunteer placement opportunity, and the manger of the vocational centre providing the volunteer.

After the initial meeting, the centre manager loved what had been proposed and agreed that a service user from the centre would visit the Birmingham IAASC team as a volunteer on a weekly basis, 2 days a week for a few hours. The volunteer has now done a couple of weeks at IAASC and seems to like it and the tasks he has been set.

When a volunteer comes to work at POhWER they are treated as any other staff member would be, so will have supervisions and one to one sessions. This gives them the opportunity to discuss what they would like to achieve here at POhWER. They are also encouraged to discuss their future plans in terms of their goals and we try to help them as best we can to achieve this during the time they are with us.

This will enable us to develop their skills and help them achieve their goals.

After each session, we have an informal chat about what tasks the volunteer has enjoyed and what they found challenging. We then establish what tasks worked well and what tasks need improving so that POhWER can identify developments for future volunteers wanting to work here and also for that particular volunteer. This ensures they are listened to and makes working at POhWER as a volunteer one of the best experiences they have ever had.

We also like to encourage the individual development and progression of volunteers so they can achieve the very best working experience within POhWER. This can then be applied to any future employment opportunities they wish to progress in.

With this current partnership, we are looking at working further with the Calthorpe Trust to see how we can best develop our Sen Volunteers, enabling them to go out into an office environment with the skills and resources they need, so they will not be nervous just because they have a learning disability, but will be able to confidently perform the various office tasks they are given.  In working together to develop the Sen volunteers, we are empowering them as individuals who will have the confidence to do anything they set their minds to.

What started as a leisurely get together outside of work between 2 ex-colleagues has now turned into a positive working partnership between the Birmingham branch (IAASC) of POhWER and a special education centre. A partnership that we are very passionate to keep going, as we look to gain more volunteers from the centre.