All posts in “Volunteering”

SNAP volunteer attends Royal Garden Party

We are incredibly proud of Alison Weare one of our Swansea volunteers who was nominated to attend the Queens garden party as a gesture of thanks for her commitment to supporting children and their families in the community.

“I was completely surprised. It’s the kind of thing you see other people doing, but never expect to do yourself. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.”

People can’t just apply to attend!  Instead, they are nominated, usually by the Lord Lieutenant, the Queens personal representative in each county. Plus-ones are welcomed, though. Each guest is allowed to take a partner or friend and Alison was thrilled to take her daughter Katherine Hood and partner Antony Bidder to enjoy the experience with her.

For the Palace, the garden parties are an opportunity for the royal family to meet and thank individuals for various good deeds they have done. The emphasis is on rewarding the unsung heroes and heroines of British society and in particular those like Alison who give their time to support others.

Alison said the day was amazing,

“It was wonderful, the tea party took place in the garden, which was beautiful, the military brass band played and the Royal family tried to speak to as many people as possible and then everyone got to sit down for a wonderful tea.

We ate finger sandwiches egg mayonnaise with cress; cucumber with fresh mint and, smoked salmon bagels and cream cheese and loads of beautiful cakes.   It almost looked too good to eat!

The atmosphere was wonderful, we walked around the beautiful garden we couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more.  I was so proud to be there representing SNAP Cymru and to share the day with my family.”

Alison started volunteering with SNAP Cymru after retiring from a 37 year teaching career.

“I had previous knowledge of SNAP while I was a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in Clwyd Primary in Swansea.  I had met Hania one of the Family and Young Peoples Officers in 2010, and was so impressed with the way she supported families, giving them the confidence to be fully involved in all the decisions being made for their children…. I thought, ‘I want to be a part of this’, no matter how great or how small.    I would Join SNAP Cymru as a volunteer when I retired.

I’ve been here more than 6 years and I’ve found my niche, I’ve learnt so much and have never looked back!”

In Alison’s volunteering role she is able to put her previous knowledge of Special Educational needs and working with children and families to good use, and continues to find this work most rewarding.

“I bring life experience to the role, I’m 68 and it keeps my outlook positive. I also learn new things which keeps me on my toes!

In my role I listen to families who are often very upset or frustrated, I listen to children and promote the child’s view and often help families’ complete forms and write letters if needed.  Lots of the work is about providing reliable information so parents or carers can express their views and communicate with schools and local authorities.  I don’t have to look for this SNAP Cymru has amazing resource’s which are dependable and accurate and easily accessible to me as a volunteer.”

SNAP Staff always make you feel welcomed, appreciated and thanked.  You are always supported and never worry about making mistakes, there is flexibility and volunteers are never put under any pressure.

Alison says, the feedback from families is fantastic.

 “The other day I received a note from a parent which said, “you don’t know the difference you have made!”  That’s what makes volunteering so rewarding; you’re making a difference to someone’s lives.”

There is a social side too – Alison says “I’ve made friends with my fellow volunteers and staff and we meet for lunch and a chat and give each other support. We have great fun together.”

SNAP Cymru provides all their volunteers with invaluable training, and the support is the best quality you could ever have. They are very supportive and concerned about the volunteer’s well-being, and if you ever have any questions or problems they are there to help in any way they can. “ You never feel out of your depth!”

Once trained there’s the opportunity to help with SNAP’s frontline service by becoming an advisor with the helpline service or like Alison representing SNAP Cymru on the Special Educational Needs Panels at the local Education Department.

Alison says. “The personal development of my computer skills since I have been with SNAP has been amazing. All volunteers feel welcome and valued and are part of a local team and the larger family of SNAP.

I would encourage anyone to volunteer because of how rewarding it is. You don’t have to be an expert; you just have to be yourself.

Im just thrilled that volunteering for SNAP Cymru and supporting the work they do in the community was recognised and I was invited to the Palace!”

4 hours a week, is enough a day or two even better !   Just try it to see what it’s about!  We are looking for helpline volunteers to join our team in Swansea and at our other offices across Wales.  Please contact ruth.phillips@snapcymru.org for a chat or look at the http://www.snapcymru.org/get-involved/ where you can complete and send an application form.

 

SNAP Cymru receive fantastic donation from Cardiff Round Table

SNAP Cymru is delighted to receive a generous donation raised through the extraordinary efforts of Cardiff Round Table.   We would love to thank all those who contributed to raising these funds.

Fundraising efforts like those of the Round Table members will help us support children with additional needs and their families who rely on the independent advice and support provided by SNAP Cymru across Wales and in this case in the Cardiff area.   With ever greater pressures on services and provision for children and families, the need for accurate independent advice for families is more important than ever.

SNAP Cymru is a small Welsh Charity with a big Impact.

Approximately 23% of children and young people in Wales have some form of additional learning need or disability.  SNAP Cymru was set up in response to families’ desperately needing support to navigate the maze of assessment and provision for their child’s additional needs.

Many children are well-supported and making good progress with excellent support from their school teachers and Local Authority.  However, there are also families for whom the education system represents ‘a battle’ to get the needs of their children identified and for those needs to be met.  The crucial issue is that both experiences happen within the same system.  SNAP Cymru believes that no parent should feel they have to ‘battle’ and all parents will feel listened to and supported.

The Round Table Impact

Round Table members across the UK do more than more than just giving back to the community by volunteering and giving back to the community.   At the core of the Round Table association is a determination to go the extra mile for friends, family and the community.  From organising the biggest firework displays on November 5th to individual challenges like The Three Peaks in 24 hours, every year Round Table raises millions for great local causes and charities.  We were thrilled to be chosen by the Cardiff organisation for such a generous donation.

Our staff in Curran Road in Cardiff, supported by a team of trained volunteers, are big believers that families should be able to access the information that they need, when they need it, in ways that are convenient to them. They provide impartial, honest and reliable advice and support through a bilingual helpline, website and a specialist casework service.  They  help ensure that the voices of families and young people ‘are heard’ when decisions are being taken about their future, but they also actively listen to all views in the process helping families and professionals to resolve issues and find solutions together.

The exceptional £5,000 donated by the Round Table in Cardiff has allowed us to purchase much needed computer equipment and helped ensure the ongoing cost of our helpline for families.   The essential IT equipment in our Cardiff office had become virtually obsolete, and ever decreasing core funding rarely allows us to purchase new critical infrastructure.

The family and Young People’s officers in Cardiff say that:

“The new equipment funded by Cardiff Round Table has made a huge difference to our team!  We all now have the means to work remotely from home and schools etc which helps us enormously and saves us considerable time.  We can now type up letters and reports from families’ homes rather than returning to the office to do this.

Compared to our old computers, these are much faster and easier to use, saving us time when we switch them on and when we are working. His has made an incredible impact to our work”

 

Generous donations such as this will help to ensure that SNAP Cymru can continue to support children, young people and their families in the Cardiff area.

Could You Help?

Would you be interested in supporting families of children with Special Educational Needs by training to be a volunteer telephone helpline advisor?

If you have time to offer, you’ll gain valuable skills and experience and be part of a team making a real difference to children and families who need us.

You’ll be trained and develop the skills needed to offer support and practical advice to the many families who call us for help.

As a telephone helpline advisor volunteer you would:

• Listen to families and build up a clear picture of what is happening
• Listen to children and promote the child’s view
• Help families’ complete forms and write letters if needed
• Help parents/carers to express their views and communicate with schools and local authorities
• Explain rights and responsibilities
• Help families prepare for meetings, understand the assessment process and the roles of professionals
• Find further sources of information, support and advice to provide to families

The next training course will be in Swansea during July.

If you have past experience as a parent or as a professional in education, health or social care, or are passionate about supporting other families… why not come and meet us for a chat at out Telephone helpline coffee morning.

When: 21st of June at 10.30 am
Where: SNAP Cymru, Acorn Business Centre, 250 Carmarthen Road, Swansea SA1 1HG

It’s incredibly rewarding!

For more information contact us on 01792 457305 swansea@snapcymru.org
Click here for more information: http://www.snapcymru.org/get-involved/volunteer-roles/ and see the details for Telephone Helpline Volunteer

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!