Volunteer Roles

Here are the different kind of volunteering opportunities the Parent Partnership Service can provide:

Parent Mentors

This is a new role for volunteers which we are currently developing in conjunction with the Aiming High for Disabled Children Project in Nottinghamshire. Volunteers take part in an initial 2 day training course, covering listening and communication skills, professional boundaries, approaches to supporting parents and an introduction to some of the areas where support might be needed. Further essential training is provided on safeguarding and volunteers can also pick up on elements of the Independent Parental Supporter course to increase their knowledge of education issues.

This area of volunteering arose through interest expressed by Derrymount School in having someone (ie parents or volunteers) to befriend/buddy with parents of children new to the school, and this will form a central part of the role. We envisage that there will be scope to expand to other schools and are currently looking at options around drop-in sessions.

This is a developing area so we will update as things progress!

Other Volunteering Roles

We also involve volunteers in other ways:

  • Our Stakeholder Group draws its members from the different groups using or involved with the service. Parents (ie service users) are represented on this body by a parent volunteer, and volunteers involved in delivering the services we offer are also represented. The different perspectives of each of these volunteer representatives have proved invaluable in helping the group to formulate feasible solutions to difficult situations faced by PPS.
  • A number of volunteers offer their support at events run by PPS for parents, families and/or education professionals, for example, we are always keen to have volunteer involvement at Information Days or when we are invited to talk to parents’ groups.
  • Students sometimes contact us to spend some time volunteering here. They work in the office, taking on administrative tasks or supporting parents with written work according to their skills and preference.
  • We sometimes run short term projects which often involve volunteers supporting parents in very specific situations. For example from September 2009 to April 2010we are running a pilot project offering intensive input for parents of 5-7 year olds with very complex needs, and volunteers will play a part in that.
  • We are involved with two groups for families of children with disabilities, one for County families and one for City families. There are opportunities within these group sessions for volunteers to work with children or to offer support to facilitate the session, preparing refreshments, welcoming families and generally providing an extra listening ear for parents who need someone to talk to.

Direct Support for Parents

Our volunteers support parents directly in two ways.

  • Volunteers can work alongside the helpline advisor in the office, offering advice, information and telephone support. Training is offered, as part or all of the IPS training course (see below), plus specific helpline training. Telephone helpline volunteers would normally work a set half-day session per week.
  • Independent Parental Supporters (IPS) are volunteers who offer face-to-face support for parents, taking up a case when telephone support is not enough. These volunteers undergo training, both prior to any volunteering, and as an ongoing development of their skills and knowledge.

Volunteers are seen by parents as offering truly impartial support; they are not employed by the local authority and are therefore viewed as more independent than a paid member of staff. In addition, volunteers have often experienced similar situations to the parent they are supporting, and are perceived to understand their case in ways that a paid professional might not, and are therefore in a unique position to empower and enable parents to work in partnership with school and education professionals

Our volunteers are recognised as offering parents high quality advice and valuable support, often in circumstances where the parent is upset, confused or angry. Parents and education professionals alike are frequently enthusiastic about the positive effect of an Independent Parental Supporter’s involvement, and their input is highly regarded and welcomed by schools and local authority professionals.

Over the years, our volunteers have helped us extend our individual support over a wider geographical area and to greater numbers of parents than would otherwise be possible.