MERU has a long tradition of recruiting volunteers who are from disadvantaged groups. We have several disabled volunteers and others with mental health issues. Many of our volunteers are retired engineers, with the oldest being 85 ‚Äì we received the Queen‚Äôs Golden Jubilee Award for Volunteering in 2003 for the range of volunteers engaged with MERU - but many now need specialist support if they are to continue volunteering for the charity, therefore we need a Volunteer Facilitator who will be given specialist training in supporting vulnerable volunteers. This will enable MERU to build on, strengthen and increase its use of volunteers and engineering students on placement in order to help more children & young people with disabilities by developing and providing innovative aids to meet their needs, as well as engaging in outreach to forge stronger links with the communities, schools and universities that MERU‚Äôs referrals, volunteers and students come from.
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Registered Charity in England and Wales (269804)
The new post will be responsible not just for increasing the numbers and age range of MERU‚Äôs volunteers and students and their induction, training and management, but also for ensuring that we are maximising the opportunities for volunteers to assist a greater number of children and young people. The Outreach element of the role will be to regularly take volunteers and students out to specialist and mainstream schools to talk to teachers and therapists, where they can see for themselves, in situ, the problems the children are experiencing and then discuss potential new projects to resolve the access, communication and independence issues. We will develop a system whereby the less complex projects could be manufactured by volunteers under the supervision of the. Volunteer Facilitator. This would significantly increase the number of projects we are able to take on, whilst ensuring a reliable flow of work and job satisfaction for the volunteers. Importantly, having a volunteer facilitator will also allow us to increase the number of children we can help. In order to comply with medical directives and legislation, we had to reduce our project intake from 180 bespoke projects a year to 50, which meant concentrating on more complex items such as chin switches and specialist bathing equipment. Producing quality standards and documentation for 180 different products per year was simply not possible: given our existing staffing and budgetary levels. Increasing our volunteer activities will mean being able to increase the number of projects again. MERU also makes specialist educational equipment or modifies toys and leisure equipment to improve the quality of a childs life. These are not medical devices so do not need to be subject to the same documentation ‚Äì which means these types of projects could be more suitable for volunteer engineers to take on with the support of a member of staff dedicated to going out and bringing in these types of projects and supervising their development. We have recieved pledges of ¬£61,500 towards this post, but need a further ¬£43,000 in order to fund the position for 3 years, before we can recruit.
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