This interests me, but I don't have any professional experience
At L'Arche we are perfectly aware that young people who would like to be volunteers have little or no professional experience. This doesn't represent an obstacle. Each person has his/her place in the community and in the home based on their gifts and competences: the same applies for individuals as for everyone. In fact, the role of the volunteer is a very simple one: to become an accompanier, a life assistant and, as the months progress, a friend for the people with disabilities who live in the same home… His/her role is to participate in the life of the home: to wake the residents, prepare meals, help with transport and the various activities.
Intellectual disability frightens me
The unfamiliar often frightens us… Which is why you need to take time to discover and get to know yourself. And in L'Arche, we have plenty of time! So why not prepare for this encounter step by step: by contact from a distance to start with, then with an initial encounter at an event, party or birthday, then a day or a weekend, and so on? Because if you are already finding out more about the subject; that means that you are potentially open to the idea…. And that this fear is just waiting to escape. So, be brave and continue on this path!
I know nothing about the issue of intellectual disability
In fact, you may well feel concerned about the idea of sharing 9 or 12 months of your life in an environment you know nothing about. That's why each volunteer is individually welcomed to the community. Work on his/her project is started very early on with the assistants' coordinator and the community leader, even before the volunteer arrives, to ensure that every aspect is well prepared. Wherever possible, opportunities to meet the community are organised, over a weekend and then over a week.
What competences do you need to be a L'Arche volunteer?
What if we told you that we don't ask for any particular competences? Only to feel comfortable in your own skin! For all the other aspects, we have had a training tool in place for several years now, which was specially designed for young new arrivals. This formation enables them to update their knowledge on the care routine and first aid that they need to know. In addition, the volunteer is supported by a contact person, the guardian, who is designated in the community (usually the assistants' coordinator) who will listen to and advise you throughout the volunteering period. Weekly meetings with the pedagogical team will also be a place for discussion and to share information.