Volunteering Stories: “Thoughts from a new boy on the block!” Volunteering for Home-Start can be incredibly rewarding, but taking those first steps can be filled with uncertainty. Michael Baim, a volunteer for Home-Start Central Bedfordshire, has been volunteering for six months now, supporting families in his local area. As a home-visiting volunteer, Michael has had a steep learning curve and has shared his experiences with us. After filling out the application form, speaking to the team and undergoing the correct checks, the next step for Michael was to get started on his preparation course to become a home-visiting volunteer. Every Home-Start home-visiting volunteer takes part in our volunteer preparation training – a course usually run over 6-8 weeks, which gives potential volunteers time to learn about home visiting, think about how they would approach different situations and learn from each other’s experiences. It also gives time for the Home-Start team to get to know each volunteer and understand which families would make a great match. He recalls; “the Volunteer Preparation Course followed in February and March. This was so interesting. Many of us were from different backgrounds, different religions, and different cultures. “I graduated and was given a certificate! Now all I had to do was wait to be allocated a suitable family…” Throughout the training, the Home-Start team will get to know their new volunteers and will match them with a family where they think the volunteers will be able to make the most difference. Volunteers and their matched families may share similar experiences, may come from a similar background, or their co-ordinators may think they would just be the perfect match! “Talking about my co-ordinator….she is terrific. She is my 'Alexa’ - always there ready to support and advise me, even on the most fundamental of questions.” Michael recalls, fondly. After a few months, Michael was allocated to a family – “the moment of truth.” “[There was] first a visit with my co-ordinator, then [I was] allowed to fly solo.” The family Michael supported consisted of “a mother, father, young son and an even younger daughter. I found myself in a world completely unfamiliar to me. Location, conversation, attitudes, backgrounds, culture, experiences, expectations. I was on a huge learning curve!” After getting into the swing of being a volunteer, Michael and his family began to get to know one another, “the curve soon became a straight line as I got my head around the many issues I had to understand. Over a short period of time, I was able to establish a Home-Start relationship with the family [which was] different with each person, of course. “A relationship of trust, frankness and fun. A relationship that, I hope now after six months, is allowing the members of the family to confront their issues and move forward.” “Am I enjoying it? ‘Enjoy’ is probably not the correct word. “Satisfying? Yes. “Gratifying? Yes. “Stage set for further progress? Certainly. Job done? That’s up for discussion... “Glad I volunteered? You bet!” If like Michael, you would like to volunteer for a family within your local area, you can do so by registering your interest to volunteer, here. For more information about volunteering for Home-Start, click here.