Jan Forest, Volunteer Switchboard Operator
Jan Forrest, age 62, volunteers one day at The Whitechapel Centre week to cover the switchboard, providing valuable behind the scenes support for our administrative team.
My day starts with …….
My day starts with getting up and having breakfast with my husband. I leave the house around 9.15am and drive to The Whitechapel Centre to arrive in time for the start of my shift at 10am.
I’m responsible for ……..
Every Wednesday morning I answer the incoming calls to the switchboard at The Whitechapel Centre. We get all kinds of callers and queries including those from individuals, the Police, Probation Service, hospital staff, GP’s, the press and numerous other agencies. Calls received from the public include queries from concerned families trying to trace their loved ones, calls from people facing homelessness, from service users and those wishing to donate goods.
I got the job …..
I retired from teaching eighteen months ago after working 25 years at Liverpool Community College. I always intended to undertake a volunteer role and the ever growing presence of homelessness in Liverpool prompted me to look at charities for the homeless. The Whitechapel Centre stood out to me because of their hands on approach and the work they carry out to offer support and encouragement to people at risk homelessness, or who are rough sleeping. The Whitechapel Centre trains all their volunteers before they place them into a support role. The Pre-Volunteer training course was a good way to learn more about the organisation and to meet other volunteers. We are also invited to a volunteer social event a few times a year, which has given me the opportunity to meet other people volunteering in The Whitechapel Centre, and chat about the many varied roles that they carry out.
My typical day…..
I don’t really have a typical day – no two days are ever the same on the switchboard. Part of the switchboard role is to support lone working, by monitoring the movements of our Support Workers; ensuring that The Whitechapel Team are working safely in the community. I also, help with a variety of administrative tasks, which are pretty wide ranging.
My most memorable moment……
Recently, I helped out at the Whitechapel sleep out at Liverpool Cathedral, which was an amazing experience. The atmosphere and generosity of those taking part was touching and gave me a real buzz to be involved.
The best part of my role…..
The best part of my job is the variety of the work and the brilliant team of people I get to work with.
After work I enjoy…..
I am often away visiting my three sons and their families and every week I travel to Leeds to look after my 16 month old grand-daughter. My hobbies include yoga, going to the gym, walking and I also help out at a Mum and Toddler group at my local church.I always make time to catch up with friends over coffee or lunch!
If you are inspired by Jan's story, and would like to find out more about volunteering at The Whitechapel Centre click on the link below to find out more about the skills we’re looking for and the current volunteer vacancies: