Volunteer mentoring project is a success

Mentors and supported volunteers at a party held at The Place in Sunniside to celebrate the first birthday of the project.
Mentors and supported volunteers at a party held at The Place in Sunniside to celebrate the first birthday of the project.
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A PROJECT helping people become volunteers has been celebrating its success.

The Volunteer Mentoring Project was set up by Volunteer Centre Sunderland to help break down the barriers some would-be helpers face.

Its team of dedicated volunteer mentors work with people who have learning or physical disabilities, mental health issues, sensory impairments or those who lack confidence and self esteem.

So far, the National Lottery-funded project has recruited 40 mentors who have helped 140 people into volunteering.

Their roles have included conservation, animal care, fund-raising and youth work.

An impressive 64 of them now volunteer on their own, thanks to the support they received from their mentor.

Volunteers and their mentors celebrated the project’s first anniversary with an event at The Place in Sunniside, Sunderland.

Journalist John Bainbridge was there with volunteer Lynn Mearns, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

The 24-year-old, from East Herrington, has spent nine months on the programme trying out a range of volunteering opportunities.

Thanks to voluntary work she carried out at the Stadium of Light, she now has a job there assessing wheelchair accessibility at home games, functions and summer concerts.

She said: “I’ve worked in a travel agents, written two articles for the newsletter and helped out with a Children in Need event at Bunny Hill.

“I just wanted to give something back to the community and John takes me where ever I want to go.”

John, 53, from Seaham, has been a volunteer mentor for three months and found out about the scheme after looking into doing voluntary work.

He said: “I went to see what volunteering positions there were and when they told me it was about helping people go out and do volunteering, I thought, what a terrific idea.

“It’s a nice feeling that you are giving something back.”

Volunteer mentors must be aged 18 or over, be caring and supportive and enjoy working with other people.

For more information, contact Volunteer Centre Sunderland on tel. 567 8902 or email supportingvol@aol.com.

Twitter: @janethejourno