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Meet the Volunteers

To celebrate Volunteers' Week 2021, we have gathered a few case studies about some of our brilliant volunteers.

Back to Volunteers' Week 2021

Volunteer Week 2021

Volunteer Case Studies

Clare Snape | Midlands Region Comms Officer, Oral Historian and Arts Development Volunteer
"That was something I wasn't expecting!"

Clare Snape had been involved with HASSRA Midlands organising activities when she thought she’d give CSSC a go with not much idea what to expect!

Four years later she’s carved out a hybrid role across a traditional Regional Comms Officer, national project work as an Oral Historian Volunteer and incorporates her love drama.

“When I started CSSC picked up on my interest in arts and that was something I wasn’t expecting and was really nice.  My national and regional role limit my time but the dual role has increased my awareness of CSSC and I bring that back to the other Midlands volunteers.  I know more staff, what they can help with and the pressures they’re often under.”

The IDOR Sailing tops Clare’s member experience list, but as a volunteer she’s loved meeting people.

“My role is to bring ideas in and get activity going, such as the amazing Big Band.  Its not always easy and it can be stressful, but its about giving things a go.” 

“I’ve loved doing the podcasts and had chance to speak to such interesting nice people who are committed to CSSC, they’ve had all these amazing experiences. The way that everyone has missed organising and doing the activity that they’re so used to shows how important CSSC is to everybody.  It’s very clear is that CSSC has been a big part of members lives.  There’s a big focus on the main CSSC offer but I’m a great advocate for CSSC for making friendships, participating in whatever you’re interested in and being part of something great.  That’s more important for me.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to do things nationally and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.  CSSC even sent me on training at the British Library for the Oral History.  Volunteering with CSSC is not run of the mill, you can make it your own.

I’ve appreciated the opportunities I’ve had getting experience with the drama workshops.  I can tie that in to my personal goals.  The community is what matters and both sides get something out of it.

 “Don’t make assumptions about CSSC volunteering.  It doesn’t have to be one thing.  I’ve proved that.  It can be flexible, you give what you can and that’s enough.  What you get back from it will be an amazing experience.  There’s a lot on offer, just ask to get involved in what you’re interested in,  the off shoot is that you’re also making friendships.

I’ll keep doing the podcasts and be part of the Oral History Program.  One day I’ll write and put something on drama related and try and get a wider spread of events, supporting others to set up activities and maybe one big regional event each year.  We just need the enthusiasm from new volunteers and we can make it happen!”

Having joined the CSSC Appointments Committee in July 2020, Elaine now brings the lessons she learned from volunteering in her early years with St John’s Ambulance, Secretary of the 1st Tadcaster Scout Group and her new CSSC roles to the CSSC Volunteer Committee.

What is the Volunteer Committee?

The Volunteer Committee exists to help CSSC meet its strategic goals and objectives relating to Volunteering and the Volunteer Strategy. The Committee gives a “voice” to the volunteer community allowing them to: shape and contribute to key strategic decisions; escalate key issues which need to be addressed at national level; and enables CSSC to learn from best practice and feedback.  

Tell us more about the new Chair of the Volunteer Committee?

Not only does Elaine have a fantastic knowledge of volunteering, but she also has a significant Civil Service background having started her Civil Service career as an Administrative Assistant in the front line of what became the Department for Work and Pensions, before moving onto a variety of operational roles and key Change Programme roles before joining HMRC in 2014 as the Transformation Director for Personal Taxes.

Throughout her Civil Service career, Elaine has enjoyed the sports and social events available to her through her Departmental Association. Having left HMRC in 2019, Elaine now lives in Tadcaster with her husband and two grown up boys and uses her spare time to provide voluntary coaching and mentoring. She practices yoga and pilates and takes dance aerobic classes. She’s also an enthusiastic swimmer…subject to the water being warm!

What do you like about Volunteering?

For me, the main benefit of volunteering has been the opportunity to give something back to the community - both in my local neighbourhood, and now through CSSC to the wider public service.

Volunteering can also provide a great opportunity to stretch yourself and learn new skills, to build your CV, and make important contacts, connections and friendships for the future.

What would your message be to CSSC Volunteers this Volunteer Week?

I regard the volunteers as the "jewel in the crown" of CSSC. The diversity of the activities which they deliver locally and nationally are what makes CSSC unique. Without the volunteers in my view - there would quite simply be no CSSC. 

We can never thank the volunteers enough, so this is a good opportunity to place on record my grateful thanks to every volunteer for their wonderful contribution to the CSSC.

Robert Gillies set up the East Kilbride Development Trust 10 years ago, taking over a physical space in the local park, providing volunteering opportunities for everyone including supported placements for those with disabilities. As part of the Trust, Robert set up the “Grow Your Own” initiative, aimed at encouraging civil servants to grow their own vegetables. He offers free seeds via the CSSC website. In the first week after launching, he received 1200 requests which he managed to fulfil with help from his volunteers! Robert used his gardening experience to share and suggest top tips for novice gardeners as well as recycling ideas involving kids in the garden.

Robert’s enthusiasm and dedication has inspired people to get back to nature, particularly during lockdown. Many CSSC members started gardening for the first time and found Robert’s advice on our website really useful.

As well as running the “Grow Your Own” initiative, Robert is also the Regional Pool Organiser for CSSC and also gives up his time working with a Glasgow based charity called GalGael. This charity support people with addictions and mental health issues, encouraging them to become more involved with their local community. Robert has had a hugely positive impact on the clients at GalGael.

Currently, he is  working on an idea around creating green spaces in the new Regional Hubs and is in the process of writing a paper to Jim Harra, the Permanent Secretary of HMRC.

“I thoroughly enjoy my time volunteering at CSSC and giving something back to the community”

CSSC means the world to me, not just for the fantastic benefits but through volunteering. It’s such a rewarding experience and I’ve made lots of new friends along the way. The feeling you get when people have enjoyed themselves or by a decision you make which adds value to the membership is something that cannot be described in a few words.

Professional background

Alan is a project manager within Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) experienced in delivering large IT/service delivery projects with 3rd party suppliers. He is currently on secondment to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) helping deliver legislative cost reduction changes.

CSSC and relevant experience
  • Member of CSSC for 20+ years
  • Joined Merseyside Area Committee 2005
  • Joined the NW Region Management Board 2010
  • Elected NW Chairman 2013

Alan has organised numerous events in the area/region and therefore has an appreciation of what members want. He was also part of the North West team that helped develop the Quality Street initiative.

“The huge success of the civil service sports effort over the years has rested on the unstinting, unselfish and entirely voluntary efforts of those who provide the facilities that the rest of us enjoy”
“Volunteers really are the lifeblood of CSSC. They are our ears and eyes on the ground, packed with local knowledge of what our members want and what will attract new members. The work that volunteers do locally, regionally and nationally is essential to the continued growth of CSSC and our members, it really can’t be underestimated. Without our volunteers, CSSC would be unable to deliver such a comprehensive offer throughout the UK in a way which ensure relevance and attractiveness to members. They are truly the beating heart of what we do”
“Our volunteers are crucial to the delivery of a substantial proportion of our member benefits. These include organising days out, sports events, trips, competitions, prize draws and social events such as cocktail-making classes, theatre and concert trips, and Christmas events. Our volunteers give freely and generously of their time to CSSC and we simply could not function without their support, professionalism and dedication. CSSC celebrates and values its volunteer workforce and CSSC is fast becoming one of the leading volunteer organisations in the UK.”
“Volunteers have been amazing through lock down, particularly with the competitions and quizzes to keep us entertained. Other volunteers have done a brilliant job of keeping us updated on postponed events. Well Done and Thank you to all!”
“Volunteers are at the very heart of CSSC, the local activity with members coming together, is the very ethos of why CSSC was founded 100 years ago”.
“Volunteers make a huge difference with recruiting new members. From arranging for the recruitment team to visit their workplace or introducing us to someone who can, to organising some fantastic deals, offers and events in their local area. Volunteers are pivotal for the success of recruiting new members.”

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