Elizabeth used to be a volunteer at Orb.

If you’ve been into the centre, you’ll have met her keeping Mark and Leon very up to scratch and very well-informed.

Elizabeth is no longer a volunteer at Orb.  She’s a paid member of staff, for fifteen hours a week for at least four months.

Elizabeth Marshall

Elizabeth Marshall

How did this come about?

Essentially,  this came about through  Vodafone’s ‘World of Difference’ programme.  Their key strapline is:  ‘Imagine spending time making a difference working for your dream charity and getting paid.’

Elizabeth Marshall, with encouragement from Mark and Leon, was only too well able to imagine this.

‘My career as a PA came to an end when the company went bankrupt and I was made redundant,’ says Elizabeth.  ‘This was at the very worst time,  just as the recession was starting to bite.  Finding a new job was looking increasingly difficult, but I knew I had to do something to keep my skills sharp and my motivation high, so I volunteered with Orb.  I have a family connection with schizophrenia, so I recognise how important Orb’s work is in supporting people at vulnerable times in their life.

It was hard work – but worth it!

Applying for funding is a major part of every charity’s work.  There were 8,000 applicants for the latest tranche of funding from Vodaphone.  Just filling in the application form took a huge amount of time, but it was done so well that Elizabeth found herself in the last 750 – then – ‘On my birthday!’ –  Elizabeth heard that she had been successful.

She was one of the last 500.

Vodafone Wold of Difference

The successful 500

‘All 500 of us went down to Newbury racecourse for the induction day. It was a fantastic experience –  we completely overwhelmed the local train service!  Gok Wan was there.  Simon Weston, the Falklands hero, was there.  Lisa Potts, the teacher who protected  her pupils from a machete wielding attacker, was there.  Maybe the message was that doing something for other people can be heroic.’

Vodafone Wold of Difference

The Yorkshire contingent - with Knaresborough banner flying!

So what difference has this made to Elizabeth?

‘It’s so good to be professionally involved with a team again. I think a lot of people in the current economic climate will recognise how demoralising job-hunting can be.  Having a paid post for the next four months is a great confidence-booster, and will also make a big difference to my CV.

And what difference does it make to Orb?

Leon explains: ‘So much of our time is taken up with complex paperwork and research, just to fulfill our statutory duties with regard to Health and Safety, Human Resources, creating policies, – you name it!  This is time which Mark and I  should be devoting to our service users and volunteers.   Having Elizabeth working for us on a voluntary basis gave us the benefit of her  professional skills, which was fantastic. Now that she’s a fully paid-up member of the team, we can plan ahead with more confidence.’

The last word goes to Elizabeth.  ‘One of the things I’ve been itching to do is to sort out Orb’s filing system.  Having this extra paid time enabled me to do this.  But – most exciting of all – I actually saw Mark filing a piece of paper correctly in the new system!  That really is a world of difference!’

To learn more about volunteering contact Leon Fijalkowski

Visit Elizabeth’s blog.

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