Many people in their dealings with PMLD LINK are surprised to find out that it is run entirely by a handful of volunteers – no more than ten at most. PMLD LINK is a small charity and operates on a shoe string budget – its income comes entirely from subscriptions, donations and occasional work for organisations by some of its editorial team. At the end of the day, PMLD LINK just about manages to cover the costs of its operations and this has only been possible because people have given their time and services for free.
PMLD LINK is now in a transitional phase. The trustees of the charity and editorial team hope that PMLD LINK will survive for years to come but there is a capacity issue. As mentioned above, the team is composed of volunteers who also have work and family commitments. Some of them have reached an age where they have to think about retiring. Also, the team could do with having more representatives from the health services and adult social care services and family members. PMLD LINK needs new volunteers to remain viable.
Volunteers don’t need to have a professional working background but it is important that they should have an interest in and a commitment to improving services for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Family members and carers are especially welcome. Volunteers will not be pitched in at ‘the deep end’ to do things that they have never done before. The PMLD LINK team will provide a buddy system and mentoring for new volunteers.
Our volunteers have the satisfaction of knowing that their work helps to keep PMLD LINK’s activities happening and that their work benefits so many people (parents, siblings, carers, education, health and social care professionals) and enables them in turn to support in various ways many people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. For those interested in career progression, the trustees would be willing to provide references.
Much of the work may be shared between two or more individuals; we think it helps if there is a lead person and a deputy or two for each role.
Volunteers do not have to be technology experts or superb wordsmiths. It is not essential but it does help if they able to use word processing software and e-mail or online social media to communicate. Similarly, it is not essential but it does help if they have regular access to a PC, laptop or tablet that that is internet-ready and supports receiving and sending messages.
We achieve a lot through online meetings and email conversations – there does not have to be much time and effort spent on travelling to face to face meetings. This work may be done at home. The amount of work and scheduling of it will vary according to the role of the volunteer but overall will be the equivalent of on average a few hours per week.
An experienced volunteer will be available to provide practical information and support as required and the editorial team have regular meetings online of the whole team or subgroups as appropriate with a face-to-face meeting at the time of our annual general meeting in May.
Volunteers may make claims for reimbursement of any reasonable expenditure for doing this work.
There are various roles to which interested people might contribute:
- Editors – For each issue of the journal a small team of two to four editors works together to edit articles received, develop reviews of news items, resources and books, and detail upcoming courses. They liaise with our knowledgeable production manager to produce the journal to a high standard. The group of editors changes on a rotational basis for each issue.
- Website assistants – They ensure that the PMLD LINK website is up to date and add new resources and new electronic copies of the journal and other material as they are produced.
- Enquiry managers – They receive all e-mail and other communications to PMLD LINK and respond to them or seek a response from other PMLD LINK team members as appropriate.
- Production assistants – They liaise with the editors, production manager and printers on each issue to ensure that printed copies of the journal are mailed to subscribers and other identified persons/agencies.
- Subscriptions secretaries – They maintain up to date records of subscribers and act as a main point of contact for subscribers or would-be subscribers seeking help and information.
All of these roles are flexible to suit what volunteers can offer. If you are interested in supporting PMLD LINK, please contact any of the Trustees listed on the Charity Commission website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.