The following interview was conducted by the first volunteer to join Independent Lives, Chris Robelou.
Chris made his interview debut as an interviewee in the Spring 2017 edition of the Independent Lives magazine.
Now he’s on the other side of the table to interview Steph Rolf, an Independent Lives volunteer who has recently taken up a paid position in the Information and Advice Team.
Hello Steph! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk to us. I should say congratulations on the new job!
How are you settling into your new role?
I’m slowly getting there thanks! It really helps that I’m learning on the job as opposed to learning through presentations and theories.
I know what you mean! It’s really good you can learn in a practical way. So let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose to start volunteering for Independent Lives?
I had been unemployed for eight years, I had my children when I was very young and then I started to have issues with my health. The Job Centre recommended I try some voluntary work and suggested Independent Lives as a good place to work. I got in contact with the volunteer coordinator and it went from there.
Sounds like a bit of a difficult time for you?
Yes it was, but volunteering has really helped to boost my confidence, and as my background is in an office environment it was great to put all of my skills to good use.
That’s brilliant! So would you say that volunteering in a charity environment has helped you feel more confident?
Yes it has! Independent Lives provide support for my dad, so I know about the great work they do.
Fantastic, that’s great to hear! Apart from the personal connection to the organisation, can you tell us what you’ve got out of being a volunteer for Independent Lives?
It has helped hugely with my anxiety and confidence. The great thing about working here is that it’s a very non-judgemental environment. Everyone really understands – in previous jobs I used to keep my health issues to myself and not tell anyone with the fear of being judged.
I’ve also made lots of great friends since I started working here which is a huge bonus; meeting new people has been a key thing for me. Add to that my friend from school works for Independent Lives!
What a small world! Can you tell you tell us what your role as a volunteer entailed?
I was calling clients from whom we hadn’t heard from for a long time and making sure their details were up to date. I then moved on to help out with various other departments such as Lend a Hand and Payroll and Banking. All of that experience is helping me in my new job now.
You could say that’s perfect timing! So you’re now an Independent Lives employee. What would you say helped you in achieving this new job?
When I was volunteering I was determined to work hard to get myself back into a regular work pattern. As a result I had accrued over 100 hours of voluntary work! I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I would make a good employee.
That’s quite some dedication! So now you’re employed can you tell us a little about your new role?
My job is Direct Payments admin support. I liaise with social workers, offer advice to the public, and help out with admin work.
Quite a busy role then!
Sometimes it’s pretty full on and sometimes it can be quiet. I could have dozens of calls one day, but a quieter day the next to catch up on my admin work.
Sounds like you have plenty to keep you occupied!
Yes, I’m never bored!
Indeed! It’s great that you have a really varied role. So what’s next for Steph Rolf? Any plans for the future?
I would eventually like to be an advisor on the team. I’m also looking into becoming a volunteer bereavement councillor. Oh, and I’m getting married next spring!
That’s brilliant! Congratulations! It sounds like everything is coming together for you. Thank you once again for talking to me, and all the best for the future!