Name: Janet Salter
Branch: West Wickham
County: South East Metropolitan
Voluntary Position: Caseworker
Tell us about your life outside the Women’s Section. I work one day a week in a busy psychiatric hospital. I also help with the yearly electoral role canvassing for the local Council.
Why did you decide to join? My mother was a member and she used to take me along to meetings when I was small. As soon as I was old enough to join, I signed up!
Do you have a Service background? Not personally but my Father was in the Royal Navy and my Husband was in the Royal Air Force.
Among your many roles in the Women’s Section, you’re also a Caseworker. What does it involve exactly? A Caseworker acts as a link between those seeking support and the Welfare Team at Head Office. Their duty is to visit beneficiaries in their own homes, assess their need for assistance and eligibility for help, then report their findings back to the Welfare Team to give them a better idea if they can be assisted or not. The role involves talking to people about their situation and gathering important personal information.
Why did you volunteer for it? Volunteering as a Caseworker means you get to interact with the people at the very heart of our organisation – people who we fundraise for and who really need our support. Having a personal connection with our beneficiaries in this way puts everything into perspective – it’s a very rewarding role.
Does it take up a lot of your time? It depends on the case and the individual concerned. Sometimes the visit is very business-like but in others, it’s much more informal as the client needs time to talk about their situation and discuss the options available.
What do you enjoy most about it? When you are successful in getting what the person needs and you see the happiness and improvement to their quality of life, it’s really gratifying. I love the interaction and it’s always interesting meeting new people and listening to their stories.
What’s the biggest challenge in the role? Completing the form with the client, particularly the expenditure and finance section. You have to obtain very personal details and for many people, it's not always a comfortable subject to talk about.
What qualities does a good Caseworker need? A good Caseworker is someone who enjoys meeting people, who can listen sensitively and write a clear report without judgement. They also need to be able to find a balance between formality, friendliness and honesty.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer? There are so many benefits to gain from volunteering as a Caseworker, especially if you’re a people person and enjoying meeting and helping individuals. It gives you a real insight into our welfare schemes as well as the opportunity to meet the people we assist and raise money for.
Why would you encourage others to join our organisation? People often ask why I spend so much time volunteering for the Women’s Section – but I get so much more out of it then I put in because of the enjoyment I have, the friendships I have made and the support I receive from other members. We are unique in that although we do a great deal of voluntary fundraising for the Women’s Section schemes, there is a huge social element to membership - and it's great fun!