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Cardiff volunteers changes people’s lives online

By Tony Wakeham, Volunteer Coordinator, Into Work Services, City of Cardiff Council

The demands on people to go online, whether to shop or apply for jobs and/or benefits, have increased dramatically over recent years. For example, as a sign of the changing times, you only have to think of the number of bank branches that have closed and the decrease in the use of cheque books to realise that an awful lot of our banking has now moved online. This of course creates problems for many in society to overcome. Perhaps they do not possess a computer or broadband and, therefore, they are restricted from using something that is becoming an essential part of everyday life. So where can people get support to become digitally included?

The City of Cardiff Hubs provide help and support to those people facing these type of barriers, by allowing access to the internet and other services. These services have been very much in demand and the support of volunteers has been invaluable in maintaining the level of service that customers need and expect. Our volunteers undergo an induction before they start helping our wide variety of clients with their enquiries. Our volunteers assist our clients to apply for work and benefits online as well as assisting with things such as homes swapper. Remember that clients come from all over the world and many do not speak English fluently. To counter this, many of our volunteers also come from different parts of the world and they enhance our service by bringing a variety of language skills with them, which again improves the service and brakes down barriers.

So why do our volunteers volunteer, well most do it to increase their skills and confidence in order to move back to employment. Also by volunteering, they know that they will improve their CV and be able to gain reference from the relevant council department.

I think this is why volunteering works so well. By supporting our clients, our volunteers essentially support and enhance their own skills, enabling them to move forward in their own lives.