From the very start, Orpheus has always had volunteers working alongside the staff and students. They come from all walks of life with a variety of skills and experience. Many are retired from their working lives and so have time on their hands. Others are on Work Placements from local colleges, schools and Universities. The support they give is incredibly varied, as is, the amount of time they give.

Volunteers have many roles including:

Reception: a valuable and often demanding role, fielding telephone calls and welcoming visitors, plus helping with admin tasks.

Session Support:  helping the tutor in sessions.  Sometimes this means being thrown into areas of learning that are new to them. But early worries soon disappear and they find they are fitting in and enjoy embracing new experiences. Others are able to bring their own ready-made expertise and are glad to be able to share it.

Gardeners: the team of gardeners help to maintain all the grounds around the Centre and in recent years have transformed many areas.

Befrienders: who come in weekly to see one particular student, often forming lasting friendships. 

Café: lunchtime help, taking money from staff, students and volunteers to help Sharon, our chef.

Fundraising and Marketing: at internal and external events, this may involve helping to set up, man a stall, sell raffle tickets, serve tea and coffee and speak to the public about Orpheus. 

Give talks: to local groups, W.I., Rotary etc, this involves traveling to the venue and often taking an alumni student to sing to the audience. 

Administration: helping whatever department needs help at the time, bringing a vast range of experience.

Work Placements from Schools ,Colleges and Universities:  Many young people come on Work Placements for a few weeks, taking part in the Sessions or as Befrienders.  This is hugely beneficial to the young person setting out in life and also to our students to mix with young people of their own age.

Residential Volunteer Placements (three per year):  Volunteers come to us either from a U.K. University or from abroad (via Inter Cultural Youth Exchange) and live in for a year, taking part in a variety of sessions each day during term time. They are also included in performances and so gain invaluable experience in the performing arts and life in general. 

Whatever the volunteers do for us, they will tell you that no matter how challenging their role is sometimes, it is also hugely rewarding. If you were to ask them, they would probably tell you that that they get as much back, if not more, than they give.

As the volunteers all come in at different times during the week, it is difficult for them to all know each other. To help overcome this, regular coffee mornings are arranged locally to give them the opportunity of meeting others and sharing their experiences. Once a year they are invited by Sir Richard and Annabel Stilgoe to a wonderful tea at their beautiful home, Trevereux Manor. They are warmly thanked by Richard and entertained by some of our students.

In 2016 we were awarded “The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service”.  This is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK in recognition of the outstanding work carried out in their own communities.  It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and is the MBE for volunteer groups. Being awarded this is something everyone is very proud of.

Valuing our volunteers is one of the most important things for Orpheus. We recognise this brilliant group of people who “give their gift of time” to our students and staff so unselfishly.

If you are interested in volunteering with Orpheus, please email Vanessa at [email protected]