JVN Volunteering Profiles – World Jewish Relief’s Beverley Goodman

World Jewish Relief dates back to 1933. Since then, WJR has positioned itself as the leading overseas aid arm of the UK’s Jewish Community. The organisation has actively represented us all in over 30 countries, from Aden to Zimbabwe. It’s Beverley Goodman’s role to help co-ordinate the WJR’s army of dedicated volunteers.

Thanks for making the time, Beverley! What’s the purpose of WJR?

The aim of WJR is to provide a crucial lifeline to Jewish people in need around the world (outside the UK and Israel) and to provide long-term programmes which strive to enhance community infrastructure, so that people can go on to build a better future for themselves.

It is also dedicated to fighting human suffering and serving the urgent needs of, primarily but not exclusively , Jewish communities who are at risk or in crisis.

How long have you been involved with organisation for?

I have been working in the WJR office for two and a half years helping co-ordinate volunteers.

How did you initially get involved with WJR?

I got involved through a friend who went to packing sessions and went along to a meeting held to launch the Big Hand Volunteering scheme.  I was looking to do voluntary work one to two days a week and wanted to work in an office.  The Volunteer Co-ordinator  Lia Bogod, had been working here for a few months and WJR wanted to expand their volunteers’ network and needed someone to help Lia with the calls, database etc.

Beverley (R) helping out with the packing!

How many volunteers are currently working with you?

We currently have approx 300 volunteers on our database, but the number of active volunteers varies widely depending upon what campaigns are running and for how long.  There are about 100 volunteers who regularly pack at our Neasdon warehouse.

What type of volunteering opportunities does WJR offer?

The volunteering opportunities available can be split into the following categories:

Distributing

Putting up posters and leaflets in shops, shuls, restaurants; distributing charity boxes; collecting foreign coins.

Representing

Giving presentations about WJR; promoting the Big Hand; recruiting volunteers;  representing WJR on communal initiatives; introducing WJR to shul based communities.

Gifts in Kind

Packing goods at the warehouse; coordinating community collections (shuls, schools); manning WJR drop off points; sourcing garage space or storing goods; transporting goods; sourcing new suppliers of GIK.

Office support

General administrative support.

Events

Organise events e.g. quiz nights, coffee mornings; take part in events e.g. fun runs, marathons; selling space in WJR event brochures.

Merchandising

Promoting and selling tickets for WJR events; certificates; celebratory giving; selling raffle tickets.

Research

Adhoc research/writing projects.

What can you tell us about your volunteers’ backgrounds?

Typically I would say volunteers are over 40 and female but about 20% of our volunteers are men.

There are also school children who become involved in our Big Bagel event by holding parties at school or home for their friends and our Operating Winter Survival event by arranging clothes collections, they also sell raffle tickets (if they are over 16).

We have a few volunteers in their late teens/early twenties who work in the office, run marathons, pack at the warehouse on family days. We also have 7-10 volunteers who work in the office on a regular weekly basis doing admin, data entry, research and writing case studies. Most of our volunteers are London based but there are groups who live in the provinces e.g.. Birmingham, Manchester.

wjr.org.uk

What is the best part of your day in the WJR office?

I very much enjoy my time at WJR, as the office has a friendly atmosphere and the staff is very welcoming and inclusive.  I enjoy reading emails when I come in to see if volunteers have been found for jobs that need doing as I like the satisfaction of matching a volunteer to a job. I am fortunate that on the day I come in the weekly staff meeting is held which I am invited to attend, so I hear about what has been happening in the office during the week and what events are upcoming and how projects are progressing.

What events do you have prepared for 2011?

There are always regular campaigns that occur each year e.g  Pesach, Chanukah appeals which require volunteers to put up posters and leave flyers in their local shops and restaurants.

In March we have people running in the Adidas Half Marathon, there is a Pomegranate Lunch at St John’s Wood Synagogue where the speaker will be Baroness Helene Hayman.

In April it’s the Virgin London Marathon and WJR has the biggest team we’ve ever had, with 12 runners this year.

The Big Bagel runs throughout June, when we ask volunteers to host Bagel brunches or teas for WJR.

We still have places available on Nightrider, an all night bike ride through London on 11 June and the Business Breakfast with guest speaker Sir Martin Sorrell takes place on June 17.

How has JVN helped you work with volunteers?

I haven’t had much contact with JVN yet (apart from a volunteering training seminar I went on last year) because I have recently taken over from the previous volunteer coordinator, but I am looking forward to working with them to help fill my volunteering opportunities!

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Categories: Volunteering Profiles

Author:Mike

Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.

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