Zoë, Client Services Director, discusses her volunteering experience with local charity, Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre, in our first volunteering blog post of the year.

I think we can all be guilty of turning a blind eye to the less savoury things that go on in our local area – from homelessness to anti-social behaviour to instances of sexual assault. I am no different – out of sight out of mind. If I don’t read about it or hear about it on the news I am none the wiser. So it did come as somewhat of a shock to me when I embarked on my two days volunteering at <a href=”http://cambridgerapecrisis.org.uk/”>Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC)</a>, how vital and in demand this charity is in the local area.

CRCC offers support to women and girls who have experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence. The charity is run by women and for women and offers a number of essential support services – a helpline, email support and counselling. I was fortunate to get in touch with the team at CRCC offering my marketing expertise and skills at a time when they were reviewing website performance and how to make the most of their social media channels to engage with their audience. I spent a day in June and the second in August reviewing and developing my recommendations for the website and social media, which included evaluating website content, SEO performance, website structure and social media objectives. By the end of my second day learning about the charity and the incredible work that they do I knew that my two days of offering my particular skillset to this project will have saved volunteers valuable time and resource doing the same job, which they can spend supporting survivors.

When I went in to meet the team at the end of my second day – I couldn’t spend my two days in the office as they handle sensitive information – I was blown away by the appreciation for what I felt was just the tip of the iceberg of what I could contribute. What I do as second nature in my day to day job for our clients is something the team at CRCC knows needs to be done but justifiably time is focused elsewhere. So if I can dedicate the headspace and time to, for example, the user experience on the website, whether it is appearing in search results and understanding how best to engage with their audience then I feel that I have made a valuable contribution.

I asked the team about the support they receive in the local community, which is extremely positive. There is more that can be done though. CRCC is not what the general public might see as a ‘cuddly’ or ‘feel good’ charity – it doesn’t help donkeys who live in poor conditions for example or provide amazing once in a life time experiences for children with terminal illnesses. What it does do is provide a much-needed service and listening ear for survivors in the local area. But, and somewhat understandably due to the stigma associated with the vocabulary, a rape crisis centre isn’t something companies, individuals, schools, colleges, universities will immediately think of when considering charities to offer support to. Regardless of whether people feel comfortable with talking about rape openly in a conversation these centres rely on support and donations to keep going. Everyone can help make a difference – no matter how big or small.

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