Afghanistan veteran with medals and child

Why volunteer for SSAFA?

31 October 2014

Why volunteer for SSAFA?

Cathy Walker, head of Volunteer Support, started out as a volunteer and has worked for SSAFA for over 30 years supporting the serving and veteran community.


Volunteering for SSAFA, the armed forces charity

In the time I have worked at SSAFA, I’ve seen how the organisation is constantly adapting to meet the changing needs of clients. That’s partly because veterans of World War Two are getting fewer – but also because there have been numerous conflicts in recent years that have presented new challenges for the military community. Today our volunteers are working with younger people and their families and they’re having to find solutions to more complex problems.

All this means that our volunteers must adapt too – and at SSAFA we excel at supporting our volunteers to ensure they are fully equipped for their work. For all our volunteer roles, from caseworkers out on the frontline to fundraisers shaking a collection bucket, there is a local induction followed by training at our central office in London. After that, they stay up-to-date with refresher training and chances to meet and work with other volunteers.

With all that change, one thing that remains constant is the need for our volunteers to have empathy and understanding. If anything, this has only increased as their work has changed. Our volunteers make no moral judgements and they treat all requests for support in the same way. I’m proud to say that they look for reasons to help, they don’t find reasons not to help.

We recruit the very best volunteers, we make sure that they have the skills and the training they need and then we let them get on with it. That makes SSAFA unique amongst voluntary organisations as very few charities allow volunteers to 'get their hands dirty' with welfare work. Our caseworkers will visit people at home and build relationships with them over time. They work hard to gain people’s trust so they can persuade people to reveal personal details about themselves. This all helps them to find out what support someone needs and to do everything that they can to get that help.

When I speak to our volunteers, they give me countless reasons why they love their work. From meeting new people, to learning new skills – it’s all great stuff. But I know most of our volunteers are motivated to give their time for SSAFA because they want to do something good – to put a smile on someone’s face.

Find out more about volunteering for SSAFA.