Make a positive contribution to the lives of others through the Maribyrnong Family Mentoring Project

Posted on 21 October 2015 by Maribyrnong News

Young girl smiling and sitting on grass between her parents who are both looking at her.

This article was originally published on Maribyrnong News on 5 October, 2015.

The Maribyrnong Family Mentoring Project links families with much needed services.

Lightening the load for another family can bring joy to volunteers by knowing they’re giving back to the community in more ways than one.

Volunteer family mentors not only assist parents, they also assist children aged up to 18 years old, who could benefit from stronger connections with others.

Maribyrnong City Council has engaged MacKillop Family Services in Footscray to recruit and train volunteers through the Maribyrnong Family Mentoring Project. Medicare Local Macedon Ranges North Western Melbourne is funding the project.

Volunteers can assist families by providing emotional and practical support to build confidence and increase self-esteem among members. They have the ability to make a real and lasting difference within their community. They broaden a family’s experience of what it’s like to experience caring relationships and provide social support to reduce feelings of isolation.

They have the opportunity to share their own family experience, especially in relation to parenting. Volunteers can share knowledge about engaging with their community – including accessing libraries, playgroups, early years services, community centres, health and wellbeing programs, youth services and parenting support.

In return, volunteers receive the benefit of getting to know people within their community. Volunteer family mentors will be able to use their skills and experience to support a local family for up to two hours per week, depending on the role and the family’s requirements.

Maribyrnong News caught up with Melbourne resident Catherine Loccisano who has been assisting a family in Melbourne’s West through MacKillop Family Services’ Maribyrnong Family Mentoring Project at Footscray.

Ms Loccisano is a mother herself, and enjoys knowing that she is assisting another family who requires extra help.

How long have you been volunteering for?  

I have been volunteering with MacKillop Family Services, Footscray, since May this year but prior to that for non-profit organisation South Port Day Links Inc in Port Melbourne.

Why did you decide to volunteer with families through MacKillop Family Services?

In 2014, I completed my level two field placement through MacKillop Family Services for the completion of dual diplomas: community services work and community development through Victoria University.

I chose volunteer work as a pathway to provide families with support, by listening to and connecting with others, utilising my skills, knowledge, and tapping into my life skills and resources within my disposal to provide support. This volunteer work has been invaluable for me in reflecting upon this experience as work experience, the prelude to eventually working within this field.

What kind of feedback have you got from the family or parents you are assisting?  

Appreciation and relief has been expressed to me as feedback from the family and parents I work with. Relief that there is someone else to talk to, who will listen and support them in linking up with and gaining access to important services.

What sort of skills have you been able to pass on?

What I have been able to pass on is for the family/parents to know that there is someone else who will listen, acknowledge and accept them. And for them not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of a task, in knowing that there is support out there.

 MacKillop Family Services volunteers support parents and children who might be facing difficult circumstances.

What do you get out of volunteering on a personal level?

I gain personal satisfaction that, in my own small way, I could be providing a little light in someone’s day.  It gives me purpose and positive wellbeing.

What have you learnt?  

I have learnt that needs change and to be flexible and adaptable to change.

Why would you recommend volunteering to assist families and children to other people?

I would recommend volunteering to assist families and children to other people.   Volunteering is a collaborative effort in linking families to services and supporting them, as well as providing social inclusion and value.   And on a personal level, there are rewards for you on an emotional and spiritual level, fulfilment and positive wellbeing.

To be a volunteer family mentor with MacKillop Family Services you must have:

  • an ability to make a commitment and work as part of a team
  • a willingness to attend supervision and training
  • the ability to communicate sensitively and effectively with children and adults
  • a good understanding of child development and the needs of children and teenagers in families
  • a non-judgmental approach
  • capacity to relate to culturally diverse communities
  • a commitment to supporting people in difficult circumstances
  • understanding, patience and good listening skills
  • a commitment to the policies and values of MacKillop Family Services
  • a willingness to undergo a Police Check and obtain a Working with Children Check

Find out more about the Maribyrnong Family Mentor Project.

Volunteer as a Family Mentor.