"We've recently started our new training programme for volunteers. What a short, simple statement - but what a lot it covers.
Firstly of course, it is a lot of hard work - more so this time around as Anna and myself have written a brand new accredited training programme and have been approved as a training centre by the Open College Network. You can just imagine the time and paperwork this has generated!
Thinking about what is important to women who use our service has been central to how we have developed our training programme and tying this into our values and policies to ensure volunteers really 'get' what we are trying to do.
The training last for 12 weeks, one evening a week plus a residential weekend and every moment is packed. We look at policies and procedures, and we examine our values and how to bring these alive in our work. We spend a lot of time looking at sexual violence of course; the truth and the myths, the definitions and the statistics - helping our volunteers to place sexual violence within the context of our society - where few rapes are reported, where women feel blamed for what's happened to them and where pornography stalks our daughters.
When they start on the training course, lots of volunteers worry that they might be shocked by the things they'll learn. Of course there is the shock of so much information at one time, but many volunteers realise that the things we talk about are not entirely new to them; as women, they unfortunately know a lot of this stuff already.
So what kind of women volunteer for Devon Rape Crisis Service then? Well, thankfully a whole range of women that make doing the training a real pleasure. Women with previous skills in working with people, women without but who want to offer their humanity to another, women who are solid, strong, funny, smart and real. Women you'll sit next to on the bus and women who you'll stand next to in a supermarket. In short, women just like us. Women just like the women who need our services, who call and email and turn up in person to talk.
That's why it works."