The role of the Area Visitor
Area Visitors (AVs) play a key role in the Grants & Awards Committee’s assessment of applications to the RMBF, by visiting new and existing applicants in their homes. Although staff members communicate frequently by telephone and letter, they never actually meet the applicants. Many applicants find it easier to talk to someone in their own home and the visitor may well discover circumstances, difficulties or needs which would not otherwise come to light.
AVs are asked to visit by a Caseworker. After each visit, they write a report of their visit which provides details of the applicant’s home circumstances, family situation, well-being and any other factors or exceptional circumstances that may be affecting their day to day life. Along with the Casework Report and recommendations, their report is then presented to the Case Committee which makes the final decision on whether help can be offered and, if so, what this help should be.
What is expected of an Area Visitor
- To actively participate in initial and ongoing training activities, networking events and meetings with fellow RMBF volunteers, staff and Trustees
- To undertake visits according to RMBF guidelines
- To establish and maintain appropriate boundaries
- To write concise, objective and factual reports
Attributes of a successful AV
RMBF AVs can come from a wide range of backgrounds and do not necessarily need to be doctors. The AV will be expected to bring to the role certain personal attributes, which include being:
- professional, with a confidential and caring approach to visiting
- a good listener and communicator
- a reliable observer
- objective and non-judgemental
- able to demonstrate empathy, care and concern to applicants
- able to write informative and concise reports
The RMBF is committed to providing all necessary training and development to support AVs in their role. The Volunteer Programme Manager (VPM) and the RMBF’s experienced Caseworkers are always happy to answer queries and help with any problems or requests for information. All AVs will have the opportunity to give feedback and comment on both the RMBF and their role each year through an annual review.
New AVs usually want to know how much time they will need to commit to visits. This is very difficult to answer, as it all depends on your location and the number of applicants living near you, and also on whether there are already other AVs in the region. It is not possible to predict where the next applicant will come from, and therefore there is a need to have AVs willing to work for the RMBF all over the UK. If you are not asked to visit, it is because there are no applicants in your area.
Once a visit request has been made, Caseworkers expect the AV to arrange an appointment with the applicant as soon after their initial request as possible and to aim to have their report sent back in good time, so that it can accompany the report presented by the Caseworker at the next Case Committee meeting.
- The RMBF expects AVs to be willing to travel within a 40 mile radius, or within an hour’s journey time, of their home.
- It is the policy of the RMBF for AVs to retire at age 80.
Training & Development
As part of their induction, all AVs will attend an induction workshop with the Volunteer Programme Manager (VPM) to discuss the contents of this handbook and to explore the AV role further. The VPM will also accompany new AVs on their first visit to provide hands on support and guidance.
Ongoing support for Area Visitors
The RMBF training programme covers all aspects of visiting and aims to develop and build on existing skills and knowledge.
The current three sessions look at:
- Lone working (delivered by Suzy Lamplugh Trust)/Mental health awareness and basic mental health first aid (delivered by MIND)
- Personal boundaries (delivered by Shelter)
- Bereavement awareness (delivered by CRUSE)
AVs are invited to attend the RMBF’s AGM which is held in central London. As well as the business of the day, there is usually a keynote session with an invited speaker, and plenty of opportunities for networking. AVs meet one another and the Caseworkers, as well as other Volunteers, officials and staff of the RMBF. As well as being a pleasant social occasion there is ample opportunity for views and problems to be shared and discussed.
Networking opportunities are arranged by the VPM from time to time through informal regional meetings, where AVs will have the chance to meet colleagues and share their experiences as well as here the latest RMBF news and service developments.