A few evenings ago I was sitting at my computer working on a presentation on the topic of boundaries. I was somewhat stumped. I was growing tired of reading American new working culture blogs and studying the fine print of confidentiality policy, something about this reading didn’t match my experience of dealing with boundaries as a volunteer at JRS. At this point I started to think about my role in the charity and wrote the following description of my role.
Role description: Part-time volunteer wanted!
Needs to be a friend and a colleague. Must be competent in administration, presentations and calculations. A Trainee chef, with a background in health and safety, most importantly an expert coffee maker! Must have an interest in computing, data collection and analysis, and strong communication skills. A hands on cleaner, carer and fundraiser with an occasional bit of heavy lifting. An advocate, a problem solver, a student and a teacher… Oh and preferably a blogger.
I would expect any JRS volunteer to have a similar repertoire of diverse roles in their work. I think the variety of these roles is striking and I am interested in how people working at JRS and the Hurtado Centre manage these different responsibilities. To navigate this complex terrain alongside beneficiaries with extremely complex situations involves a level of versatility which I have not come across in any of my earlier work.
So how does this relate to my work on boundaries? I think generally there is a safety in our job descriptions and the more defined that description becomes the easier it is for us to impose limitations upon our work. I have enjoyed working at JRS, in part because of the rich source of roles I might take on in a day, this is a very responsive model with which to approach the complexity of tasks that lay in front of us.
However setting out boundaries with which we can juggle the many ‘hats’ that one might wear in a day is also important. I have had to be very clear with myself in both time management and prioritisation as a volunteer at JRS in giving these roles their allotted time. It is these sorts of boundaries that protect and therefore enable ourselves, our colleagues, our friends and the mission behind all of these different roles.
I hope, in the subsequent group sessions that I am working on, that we can start a dialogue about how to safeguard and sustain our staff, and continue to have the level of versatility and sensitive problem solving that I have come to expect from JRS.