Earlier this week, we launched Turn2us Connect, a new service designed to help people claim benefits they are entitled to.
We link up people who are struggling to claim benefits with trained volunteers who can walk them through the process.
The special thing about this new volunteering project is that it can all be done on your phone.
We spoke to Simon, one of our first Digital Buddies, about his experience volunteering over his mobile phone.
Why did you want to become a Digital Buddy?
I like to help people that need it and I had the skills and knowledge in the area of benefits that I thought I could use to support people. I am quite good at doing research and I thought it is nice to give direct support.
In my everyday job I don’t work directly with the people using Turn2us services as it is all online, so this was different for me. It was good to have contact with people and help them in a direct way.
What did your role entail?
You are helping people navigate the benefit system, getting the information they need, but also more importantly getting them to apply for the benefits that they are entitled to.
You are there to give them the support and encouragement to apply for that benefit and if they have any concerns it’s about alleviating those to the best of your ability.
You work full-time, how did this fit in around that?
Other volunteering I have done in the past has been more physical, like going out to help fundraise, helping out at events, and face to face coaching.
What sets this role apart from other volunteering is you don’t have face to face contact with the person you are connected to, it’s all via your phone or computer. You can manage your time quite well.
What prepared you for this role?
I was familiar with benefits and the Turn2us website. I have also coached and mentored in previous volunteer roles. These skills came into play along with communication skills, which are critical.
What did you get out of volunteering?
I learnt a lot more around particular benefits, including eligibility and exclusions and my confidence in using a digital app has increased significantly.
It has also been great to support others using what I have learned from my own experience and seeing how it helps them.
Any advice for future Digital Buddies?
Make the most of the resources and support available to you. You have a great support network that you can turn to and get information from. Digital Buddies are part of a powerful and growing way of supporting someone.
If you think this kind of volunteering may suit you, you can find out more on our volunteering page.