Volunteering at Lothlorien

Birthday gathering

Spending a period of time as a voluntary co-worker at Lothlorien Community is an exciting and rewarding challenge.

Lothlorien has developed an innovative alternative to mainstream approaches by providing the opportunity for people with mental health problems to develop their potential through living alongside people who are relatively well, in an atmosphere of friendship, acceptance and mutual support. We aim to break down the distinction which frequently exists between those seen as ‘well’ and those seen as ‘unwell.’ Co-workers play a key role in this process by helping to create a culture of mutual support which facilitates residents in developing their strengths and allows them to see themselves as having something to offer as well as having something to gain from community life.

Five co-workers live at Lothlorien and along with all community members, participate in a wide variety of daily tasks from domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning to working in the vegetable gardens and grounds. It is not essential that co-workers have any special practical skills; however those who do are encouraged to use them in ways that benefit the community.

Although distinctions between co-workers and residents are minimised, the co-workers have a key role to play in the community in helping to create a positive atmosphere. It is hoped that through the co-workers’ energy and example, everyone will be encouraged to participate to the best of their ability. As their role is essentially that of befriender, co-workers can also be involved supporting people at times of distress.

We have a strong commitment to supporting co-workers to get the most out of the their experience at Lothlorien through weekly group supervision and regular individual supervision. There are also opportunities for training and personal development in the local area.

The Core Group is available on call outside of their working hours, and will come in if there is an emergency or if there is something important to attend to.

What you can gain

Volunteering at Lothlorien offers a valuable opportunity for personal growth. It provides practical experience for those who want to apply for entry into professional training in areas such as social work or counselling. It can also provide useful post-qualifying experience after completing a professional qualification.

Bench by the pond

Many co-workers come having already had professional experience in the social care field, but are drawn to Lothlorien in order to experience an alternative way of supporting people through living in a community and working together from a set of shared values. Some people also come to learn about the therapeutic use of horticulture.

Others may want to take a new direction in life or want time out from their normal career. Prior to applying, it is helpful to have had some experience, either paid or voluntary, in the social care field. It can also be helpful to have some experience of meditation or other areas of personal development which leads to an increased self-awareness and ability to be present with others in a genuine way.

What we are looking for

In selecting co-workers, we are looking for people who are:

  • concerned for others: able to take an active interest in the welfare of others
  • open-minded: willing to respect everyone in the community for who they are
  • enthusiastic: have a positive attitude
  • mature: robust enough to handle what can be an emotionally demanding role
  • responsible: can support the community’s values, as well as its structures and routines
  • open to learning: being prepared to look at one’s own values and ways of relating to others
  • able to work in a team: it is vital that co-workers are committed to working as part of a mutually supportive team

Terms and Conditions

We require a minimum commitment of 6 months, although ideally we would like co-workers to stay for at least one year to ensure continuity and stability within the community. The maximum stay is 2 years.

We welcome applications from people of all ages over 21. We like to have a mixture of ages in the co-worker team and we have had people ranging from their early 20s to late 60s.

Co-workers receive free room and board and an allowance of £60 per week, plus a monthly travel allowance of £120 towards the cost of weekends away from the community.

The commitment expected from co-workers is not like that of a 9 to 5 job and it is expected, while recognizing that everyone needs time on his/her own, that co-workers will spend time with the community in leisure as well as work times.

Due to the demanding nature of the role, it is required that co-workers take a long weekend away from Lothlorien every two or three weeks. Co-workers also get two weeks holiday after every three months. Co-workers can stay at a reduced rate for their time off at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Dumfriesshire, which is about 45 miles from Lothlorien.

All co-workers are required to go through enhanced criminal records disclosure through the Central Registered Body for Scotland.

How to Apply

If you are interested in joining the community, please send a completed application form to the Manager. Vacancies normally arise about every 3 months, although we often have more applicants than vacancies.

If you are selected for interview, the first step is to come for a day visit. You can stay overnight if you are coming a long distance. The day visit will enable both you and the Community to see if Lothlorien is the right place for you

If the day visit goes well, the next step is to come for a week's trial visit, during which time there will be a formal interview with the Core Group. The whole community is involved in the decision regarding the selection of new co-workers.

You can download a printable application from here in either MS Word, or Open Office format.

For further information, please contact Kasia Raszewska, (Manager) on 01644 440602 or email: lothlorien1@btopenworld.com