Volunteering at Lanarkshire Rape Crisis
As an inherently curious and outspoken woman, I have long been intrigued by the way in which gender ‘works’ within society. Having studied both History and Applied Gender Studies at University, I have become acutely aware of the structural inequalities that exist and the barriers faced by women and minority groups. Indeed, since I was little, I have been encouraged to stand up and speak out for those who cannot. And as I have got older, I have realised that there are so many ways we can help reshape and reorganise society – no matter how small it may seem at the time!
My passion to learn and to help people is furthered by my own personal experience as a young woman with a disability. Having faced discrimination and barriers within all aspects of my own life over the past few years, this ignited a passion in me. With the goal of helping improve the lives of others, as a support volunteer, my time at LRCC has, without doubt, had a profound impact on my life. LRCC have given me the opportunity to bring the valuable knowledge I have gained academically to their organisation and contribute within a real-world context where I can make a lasting difference.
Prior to our training, having had background knowledge on gender-based violence and its impact, I was aware of the challenges that would come with being a volunteer, given the context in which we would be working. Of course, this made me apprehensive and feared that I would do or say the wrong thing to vulnerable service users. However, by the end of the first day of my training I felt optimistic and excited for the coming weeks. I am so grateful to the team who trained us and the other strong, like minded women who trained alongside me. Despite the prospect of what we would face as call handlers, from the moment I met them, I knew that I had a supportive group around me. I learned so much – from both our mentors and the other volunteers.
Within the training, we got to explore the impact gender-based violence can have on people from various backgrounds, challenge our own thoughts and beliefs as well as learning about all aspects involved in the process of providing support to survivors. It is within this role that I have learned to identify my own strengths and weaknesses and the importance of not only my own role as a volunteer, but of being part of a wider team. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that its okay to admit when you are struggling or when you need help. There is so much support there, with the offer of debriefing sessions to unload and process any calls or experiences you have encountered. No matter when or what, the team are there for you. And you are given numerous opportunities to help in other ways – such as fundraising! I was able to contribute by collecting donations for Wellbeing Boxes that are handed out to service users for Christmas. In doing so I felt an immense sense of pride in being able to help bring some joy to women who have experienced a lot.
Recently I have also began volunteering for LRCC’s LGBT Charter Mark. In the short time we have worked together, I have learned so much. Our aim is to highlight the existence and prevalence of gender-based violence in the lives of LGBT youth. This is an area and vulnerable group that is lacking research and information, which is important to challenge and change this reality. I hope to continue contributing to the Charter Mark group by increasing my understanding and eventually basing my upcoming dissertation on this topic. I look forward to the opportunities that will come and the prospect of change that comes along with furthering our understanding.