A £250,000 project that aims to open up volunteering opportunities across Conwy has been launched by a mum who is no stranger to doing something for nothing herself.
Jasmine Pilling is the Programme Manager for Amdani! Conwy – Amdani means Go – which aims to recruit 300 volunteers over the next two years and link them to opportunities in libraries, galleries, events, theatres, museums and festivals.
Amdani! Conwy were chosen as one of four bids successful bids to share one million pounds from the Spirit of 2012, the Trust set up in the wake of the London Olympics and Paralympics to invest in local communities.
The joint venture, by Conwy County Borough Council, Community and Voluntary Support Conwy and Disability Arts Cymru, part of the Creu Conwy Culture Strategy, aims to do that with Jasmine and Access and Inclusion Officer David Cleary creating a strong and resilient volunteer community.
Jasmine, from Old Colwyn, said: “We are looking to build a small army of volunteers aged from 14 upwards across the county.
“It’s open to everyone over 14 and we are keen to reduce barriers for disabled people as well.
“They will be given an induction course and training and at the same time we also need to build up a list of organisations who can provide the kind of opportunities our volunteers need.
“We have already made connections with local libraries which run courses, activities and events and we’re looking for other organisations as well from throughout the county and especially in the rural areas.
“We provide the training and a lightwear bib, a bag and a badge for each of our volunteers and our aim is to make volunteering more inclusive and fun because it’s such a rewarding thing to do.”
Jasmine is living proof of that. She has always helped look after her brother, Kyle, who is four years her junior and has autism and a learning disability and she she has also worked managing volunteers in her previous roles.
She gained a Journalism degree from Salford University but the urge to volunteer and get involved was still strong: “I put this down to helping look after Kyle and my passion is to help people like him get into volunteering themselves and reduce the barriers to doing so.
“It has benefited me massively and given me more confidence, I’ve even done my own show on Bayside Radio and and I worked on Glan Clwyd Hospital Radio too.
“For younger people it can really boost your CV and your confidence and be a path to employment as it has for me and I know the passion to volunteer is still strong for me.
“When I was in university I got a job as a support worker helping people with autism and I’ve always found volunteering has been a huge help to me and a stepping stone for my career and I know that’s true of many others.
“Amdani! Conwy will be a huge benefit ti students wanting to gain some hours to mboost their experience as it allows people to book onto volunteering shifts that suit them as well as allowing them to try out different opportunities.
“But it can just be for people who want to give something back to the community and we want as diverse a group as possible and to get rid of any barriers to them volunteering.”
Jasmine is running the scheme with David who is himself learning sign language while she has gone back to Welsh classes to refresh her language skills after gaining an A at GCSE level.
For more information on volunteering in Conwy county https://conwyculture.com/explore-culture/amdani-conwy-2 or email Amdani@cvsc.org.uk