Volunteers Manager Helen moves on

It’s a little over 8 years since I took up the post of Volunteers Manager. I have learned so much about dyslexia and neurodiversity in that time, as well as working alongside amazing volunteers and colleagues. The past two years of the pandemic have been challenging for us all, but I’m incredibly grateful for all the volunteers that continued to volunteer online at home, or kept in touch if they couldn’t do their usual role. Over the past year, I’ve also had a personal challenge of breast cancer treatment and this is the reason that I’ve decided to take a career break to look after my health.

As we are a small staff team of seven, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of tasks, projects and events. Here are a few of my reflections and highlights:

  1. Recruiting, training and supporting around 75 amazing national volunteers in a variety of roles including Helpline Volunteers, Admin and Resource Volunteers, Media Volunteers, Events Volunteers, Career Mentor Volunteers, Adult & Student Network Facilitators, Dyslexia Awareness Speakers and our Young Ambassadors.
  2. Recruiting and supporting around 15 inspirational Young Ambassadors to get involved in a variety of events and talks. They have inspired young people at our events, teachers at education conferences and parents and other audiences at Branch and external events.
  3. Alongside six dedicated adult network volunteers, I’ve provided support to our adult and student networks which grew from 4 meetings per year in 2014 to 22 per year in 2022. Liz Rodger has been faithfully facilitating two of our adult networks for almost 20 years!
  4. Along with Liz Rodger, Jean Tennant and Sharon Duncan, we created an online Post Assessment Pack for Adults, which is now recommended by numerous dyslexia assessors and has received praise from a number of local and national organisations.
  5. Along with Cathy and Lena, we’ve driven our volunteer management and support forward to enable us to successfully gain our Investing In Volunteers award in 2018 and 2021.
  6. Grown the number of blogs from 10 per year in 2014 to around 30 per year over the past three years. I’ve been inspired by the dyslexia awareness and other opinion pieces that have been highlighted by our regular bloggers; and by the guest bloggers who have bravely stepped forward to tell their dyslexia stories, in the hope of helping other dyslexic people.
  7. Dyslexia stories are also being highlighted by our Media Volunteer, David Thomson, who has been recording podcasts for us for 8 years (look out for a new series soon). I have also worked alongside Media Volunteer, Trevor Thomson, in a variety of filming projects with our Young Ambassadors, speakers for our Education Conferences and participants in two films on education (2017) and mental health (coming later this year).
  8. Along with the Events Team, we’ve run 6 in-person and 2 online (to date) education conferences. Many thanks to all the Events volunteers and those who have spoken at the conferences, inspiring teachers to further support their dyslexic pupils.

Thank you to everyone I’ve had the privilege to meet and be inspired by over the past eight years. I’ve mentioned a few volunteer names above, but I’ve truly enjoyed working alongside and supporting every one of the volunteers that have been involved in a variety of events, services and projects. I’ve learned so much and will hold many happy memories of my time at Dyslexia Scotland. Thank you!

Helen Fleming, Outgoing Volunteers Manager