Merton CIL Volunteer Stories


Estifanos Habtesellasie


Estifanos is one of our volunteers. He became involved in Merton CIL in late 2014 after being referred by Merton Voluntary Service Council. He took part in our 4 days of core volunteer training in May 2015, covering Disability Equality, Independent Living, Disability History and Activism, and getting ready for Merton CIL. He has also attended the volunteer support group and skills training sessions in confidentiality, boundaries and safeguarding, note taking, plus do’s and don’ts of social networking, which led him to setting up a Facebook page.

“I didn’t know anything about Merton CIL or what use I could be to them. I was given an interview to check whether I’d be up to scratch. It seemed all very formal for a voluntary position, but then again I had very little experience of volunteering. It was decided that I’d do some admin work and take it from there. I was also given the chance to be a member and attend members meetings.

I got to see disabled people who were very different from me. Most of them live independently and had completely different life experiences. I had trouble relating to them initially, but through spending more time at Merton CIL and going through disability equality training I felt more at ease. I got to learn there is no one way of living, just one that suits you and allows you to have choice. I’ve come to understand the issues that affect us such as spending cuts. Although I tend to be more of a listener than contributor I feel comfortable participating at meetings. Having said that I was on one occasion a facilitator at one of the members groups, regarding the European Network on Independent Living.”

Since coming to MCIL, Estifanos has flown through his training and become a committed member of our volunteer team and has been supporting admin and reception on a weekly basis utilising his clear IT skills. We have been so thrilled with the contributions that Estifanos has made that we nominated him for a community award sponsored by the local paper, Wimbledon Guardian and Merton Council and he received a highly commended award!

“Merton CIL includes me not only by allowing me to volunteer but also giving me other opportunities. For example just recently I have been visiting residential homes with disabled residents on Merton CIL’s behalf. I’ve enjoyed writing reports and doing something for Merton CIL, in partnership with Merton Seniors Forum. There was also a time when I acted as representative for Merton CIL at a Merton Learning Disabilities Conference. This shows how inclusive Merton CIL have tried to be with me, somebody who only came here initially to do some admin work”

Estifanos also joined our user-led monitoring and evaluation steering group, and in 2016 he has gone on to interview staff and run focus groups with our      members and service users to help evaluate our service. Estifanos has clearly demonstrated that whilst without opportunities disabled people can be isolated, given the opportunity we will become well liked, well respected members of a team and active contributors to our community. He is therefore a great example of what we disabled people can achieve.


Ellie Weber-Kasim 


 Becoming a volunteer at Merton CIL was not only a conscious decision but something that fell into place quite naturally after having done some advocacy and general admin training. Volunteering at Merton CIL helped to aid my own development as a person with mental health conditions. It was great to be in touch with and provide support to an organisation that I could turn to for help if need be. It was fulfilling to help others connect to Merton CIL. I am willing to give support in any capacity that I can. After having not worked for a while, volunteering at Merton CIL has helped me get back on my feet and feel relaxed in a working atmosphere.



 Volunteer One has volunteer with us for 2 years. 

I have been volunteering at MCIL for some time. I first came in to the office to ask at reception if there is any voluntary work at Merton CIL. I had an interview with Richard at Merton CIL. I said I would be happy to volunteer for Merton CIL in the admin and photocopying section. I was also keen to answer the telephones as an office receptionist. I filled in the necessary forms and signed the documentation to volunteer for Merton CIL.

On my first day, I was greeted by the office workers and was happy to meet them. I was shown how to answer the phone and how to use the printer and the computer in the office. I was shown the computer software and how to access software such as charity log. Over the following weeks I attended one day per week on a Wednesday from 10am to 1pm.  My confidence grew. I got better at using the computer, typing and scanning documents. I used the internet for research purposes. I researched through magazines and newsletters about issues concerning about Merton CIL.

I made cut outs and photocopies about Merton CIL and their press coverage. This was filed into the Merton CIL archive folder. I went on home visits with Eileen from Merton Seniors who were working with Merton CIL to create reports on local care homes. I supported to construct these reports and informed Richard about the home visits. I helped to maintain Health and Safety in the office by keeping it clean. I helped to hoover. My experience whilst working for MCIL has been enjoyable and I have learned a lot. All these skills that I learnt and acquired at Merton CIL will make me more employable in the near future.

It is great to volunteer and here is why you should volunteer at Merton CIL:

It is good to volunteer at MCIL because the benefits are rewarding. Here are some examples:

-        Helping someone and sharing your skills. You learn new skills and make new friends.

-        Doing volunteering makes you get out and about and learning and participating in Merton CIL is helping your local community.

-        Whilst working for MCIL you are improving your employability chances and you can improve your CV.

-        Doing volunteering work helps you find paid work.

-        You are spending your free time in a constructive way and being resourceful.

-        Being a volunteer gives you some time to have fun and think positively.

Volunteer one has now moved on and is in full time employment