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Getting to know Volunteer Coordinator: Molly Miles

Molly Miles is a Volunteer Coordinator for Compass Support, part of The Pioneer Group, and focuses on recruiting and supporting Parent Champions and Parent Ambassadors across Castle Vale and Falcon Lodge. Her team of parents are often faced with a number of challenges including disabilities and additional needs, and she is working with them to build a support group to share ideas and put on a range of activities.

Birmingham born and bred, Molly worked in group of children and family centres in Worthing, West Sussex, before returning to her hometown to see more of her grandchildren. She missed working with the community and found amazing opportunities with the Ageing Better in Birmingham charity and now works with Compass Support building teams of Parent Champions and Ambassadors.


What does a typical day at work look like for you and your team?

There are six people in the team and no two days are ever the same which is part of the excitement as you don’t know who will come through the door! I spend a large part of the day out in the community working with parent volunteers, and helping them manage activities. We spend a lot of time reaching out to residents, creating links and getting people involved.


How does your team help the communities that we work in?

We offer family support for both younger and older people. We have an Independent Living team which supports individuals, whilst the rest of us support families through activities such as coaching to help residents become more aspirational. We have some volunteers who want to become role models, and they work with others to help with issues. We also work closely with other Pioneer Group teams, such as the employment team, and will send referrals where appropriate.


What are some personal values that are important to you?

I would say always being kind and taking in someone else’s situation without judging. I always try to do the best and put in maximum effort, while trying not to be over critical, as no one is perfect.


What motivates you to be your best self?

I want to help others. When I see that someone has gained some confidence or skill on the road to a better life that gives me a lot of satisfaction.


When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a holiday tester for the opportunity to go on wonderful holidays. I also played with the idea of becoming a teacher. I actually went to a teacher training college, and taught in Singapore in the mid-90s, where I discovered my love for communicating and helping others.


What is your favourite memory of being involved in your community?

In the children centres down in Worthing, we had a fantastic event to celebrate Diwali. It was run by the Bangladeshi community and attended by people of all cultures including English, Indian, Polish and more – the community really came together to have some fun and get to know each other more. It was put on in just over two weeks and I especially enjoyed dressing up Bollywood style and the henna tattoos.

In Castle Vale, the first Parent Champions meeting was phenomenal. The members enthusiastically exchanged ideas, told their stories and started an amazing self-support structure. Now in lockdown the group supports each other through WhatsApp and Facebook.


What approach do you take to look after your own mental wellbeing?

I try to maintain calm and emotional balance by embracing positive vibes only. I also meditate, and it’s great to see that some of our Parent Champions are also embracing meditation as a means of maintaining mental wellbeing.


What is one item on your bucket list?

I really enjoyed the ‘Race Around the World’ the TV programme, where travellers visited different places. It has inspired me to go back to the far east and see how things have changed. My trip would follow the fight path from the UK to Singapore.


Who is an inspirational individual you look up to?

JK Rowling. She writes about independent females in her books. Her own rags to riches success story of a single mum that followed her dream is truly inspirational.


How do you relax outside of work?

I like to garden. Also my friends and I organise pot luck suppers, where each person brings a course without conferring with the others. Sometimes the results are a bit wacky but they always seems to work.


What do you enjoy about being part of The Pioneer Group?

It’s a fun, open and positive culture, with the freedom to be creative in your own role. It brings out individual strengths and is inclusive.