Want to know more about how you might volunteer in the field of domestic violence? Read Damian's account here...
I am currently Director of Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum (NDVF). I have been an employee of NDVF since 2002.
I have worked consistently in the Domestic Violence Voluntary Sector since 1993 when I entered the sector in a voluntary capacity. Prior to that I had: gained a degree in fine art printmaking, set up art and craft based businesses, done horticulture and joinery based work and volunteered with art and art therapy workshops in care homes, drug rehabilitation centres and special needs-based college departments. I'd also coordinated projects with artist collectives.
But in 1993 I saw an advert in a newspaper asking for volunteers to run a domestic violence perpetrator programme and this became the start of a new direction for me
I had for several years seen and challenged male violence against women as an individual, but here was an opportunity to be part of an organisation doing just that. Over the next three years I volunteered within the organisation in many roles from being a Programme Facilitator, Information Line Advisor, Management Committee Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator, gaining many skills and experiences. These have been priceless both for personal growth and career development. In 1997 I had paid employment within the same organisation as the Men's Programme Coordinator. Even then I still kept up with some volunteering because of my desire to give some time and skills in support of a charitable cause for no financial gain.
Volunteering should be at least a two way bonus, in that the organisation gains free skills to help with their outputs and the volunteer should be rewarded not only with the experience of that but also with further skills development. I have given a lot to volunteering in the Domestic Violence Voluntary Sector towards their outputs and invested a lot of my free time to help support survivors and challenge perpetrators.
In return, aside from meeting some very inspiring and fantastic people, volunteering gave me free training on domestic violence issues to gain awareness and good practice skills, training on fundraising and finance, management committee roles and responsibilities, safeguarding children training, policy making, and a range of diversity and equalities issue-based courses. I was also able to attend seminars and conferences to learn about local and national developments in the sector and network and link with practitioners across the UK.
Whilst volunteering I became involved in the National Practitioners Network of Perpetrator Programmes developing good practice standards, and soon became involved in running workshops and giving presentations. Once I took up post of Programme Coordinator I, along with a core group from the Network formed, in 2000, the National Association of Perpetrator Programmes called RESPECT. This Association has led the way forward on promoting and guiding good practice work in the UK with perpetrators of domestic violence.
Volunteering opened doors for me, doors to social issues I knew little about and others I had wanted to know more about. It opened doors to a career and for my own character growth too. Volunteering has been invaluable and incredibly rewarding for me and I still do it, though for other causes now. We need and I'd love to inspire others to volunteer in the Domestic Violence Sector.