"Training time of year again and we have an amazing group of women signed up as usual. It is remarkable how little we ever need to advertise for volunteers as generally, the women who want to work with us have been carrying around the thought for years and then, when the time is right, they come straight to us. We do of course have a recruitment plan to make sure we get a diverse group of women within the organisation and we also have clear criteria for becoming a volunteer. But typically, if a woman has the commitment and 'gets us', then she tends to pass the interview and get on our training programme.
And the programme is quite some undertaking. We ask women to give up 5 evenings and 3 whole days so we have the time to cover what is needed as part of our level 2 accredited course. There is of course lots of specific information about the incidence and effects of sexual violence and lots and lots of practice about 'being there' for women who call in, email or come and see us in person. But the first part of the training really sets the stage for us all, looking at inequality and locating sexual violence within this to help us make sense of our feminist perspective on sexual violence; that 'sexual violence is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality'. It can be scary to talk about the 'F' word because of how it is often used to denigrate women but for me, this session is often the most alive and relevant to our work. After this, we start to get down to how to offer human, skilled and knowledgeable support to women.
I am so enjoying the experience of training and looking forward to next weekend when we have the residential part of our programme; essential because of the intensity of the material and so we develop greater trust and support amongst the group. I never fail to come back exhausted - and humbled.