Independent Age works to ensure older people live independently, free of poverty and neglect. The wellbeing department has recently been restructured, bringing about some brand new job vacancies, including wellbeing project officers, national wellbeing managers and a telephone friendship services manager.
Are you highly articulate and passionate about delivering services for older people? We spoke to Jeanette Bates, head of wellbeing at Independent Age, to find out more about the newly created roles and why now is an exciting time to join this growing charity.
Tell us more about Independent Age and the work you do
Founded over 150 years ago, Independent Age provides older people and their families with free and impartial advice on issues around care, support, money, benefits, health and mobility. In the wellbeing team, our core services include friendship, telephone and face-to-face services. These range from one-to-ones and telephone groups to book group clubs. Over the next two to three years we will be opening more regional offices to support the team’s growth.
What roles are you currently recruiting for and what is involved?
We are looking for 12 wellbeing project officers in different parts of the UK to provide external support for volunteers, with a particular focus on enabling increased social connections and reduced isolation for older people. The vacancies are located in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, South Yorkshire, Dorset, Bristol, Exeter, Nottingham, West Midlands, Tyne & Wear, East Anglia and Northern Home Counties.
We are looking for a national wellbeing manager in Bristol and a national wellbeing manager in East Anglia and the Northern Home Counties who will work in conjunction with a team of eight managers across the UK to deliver our integrated national friendship services in the region, enabling older people to stay independent and live well. You will be directing a team of volunteers and staff and be the key person running the regional office but ensuring that Independent Age remains a single entity. You will utilise centralised resources to keep processes consistent and minimise costs.
We are also looking for a telephone friendship services manager who will be based in our head office in London. This post will involve managing a small team with a particular focus on wellbeing telephone friendship services. You will support a range of projects and services including face-to-face and telephone befriending, book clubs, discussion groups and online friendship groups.
What kind of people are you looking for?
For all our vacancies, we need people who are highly articulate and passionate about delivering services for older people. As the face of Independent Age locally, you need to be visible in the community and proactive about getting our message out there - not an office-based number cruncher.
What skills and experience do the project officers need to have?
You need to be confident presenting to an audience of any size about what we do in order to help grow our presence. You will ideally live locally to where each post is based and have a full driving licence with your own reliable transport in order to travel throughout the community to build relationships. In the first instance, these roles will be home-based but most will eventually move to regional offices.
What would make a successful national wellbeing manager?
We are looking for people with prior line management experience, ideally in the voluntary sector, or at least a good understanding of volunteering. You need to have good project management skills and have an understanding of project delivery, as you will be developing new pilots such as our ‘social connections’ and ‘emotional resilience’ models, which are new initiatives to help older people who are either facing a crisis or experiencing loneliness.
And the telephone friendship services manager?
You need proven experience of managing staff and volunteers to deliver services within a call centre based environment. You also need experience of managing the delivery of national friendship services to an external quality standard. Strong customer service, excellent telephone skills, IT and problem-solving skills are crucial for this role, as are proven organisational skills and an ability to work independently and proactively.
Why would someone want to do these roles?
All of our current vacancies offer fantastic career development opportunities due to the broad nature of the roles. There is a real opportunity to make your mark as part of a new team in a brand new role. There is a need to be flexible to achieve the key objectives of the team. There is scope to work collaboratively across the organisation to develop the charity's services. Employees are always encouraged to contribute new ideas.
What exciting projects are you working on?
We are now in year two of our ambitious five-year strategy and in the midst of developing a broader range of models which are time limited and will provide longer term support for older people.
We are also looking at partnership working and exploring opportunities for innovation, as well as how we can better support people with a particularly high level of need. For example, we are engaging with support groups who specialise in dementia, so that we can better meet the needs of our service users.
Safeguarding is an absolute priority for us - we have to safeguard the vulnerable people we work with as well as our volunteers, especially for our out-of-hours service. We’re rolling out lone working policies which will involve communicating to service users the boundaries of what volunteers can and cannot do as part of their roles.
What opportunities for training and development are there?
We are committed to fair working and robust staff management programmes, from one-to-ones and annual target setting to identifying individual development needs and targets. We also offer instant access to e-learning portals for training and development opportunities, so employees can continue learning on an ongoing basis.
What tips would you offer applicants?
Be honest: Be clear about your skills and experience. Don’t use jargon, just clear messages about why you’re suitable for that role.
Answer the job specification: Make sure you read the job spec in detail and answer the key requirements in your application.
Be prepared to work smarter: You need to be comfortable working in an independent and home-based environment. If it’s a 9-5 desk job you’re looking for then this isn’t for you. Be prepared to be flexible to attend evening events occasionally - and have a lie-in the next day.
Sum up what it’s like to work at Independent Age
Flexible, dynamic, progressive and relevant to the older people we serve. We recently conducted our organisational wide survey and came up as a top 10 employer of choice. We employ a diverse range of people in terms of age, ethnicity and level of experience and we are respectful of this diversity.
We recently launched our charity values:
- Putting older people and their independence at the heart of everything we do
- Think big
- Working together
- Trust and respect
- Being effective
Whilst we have been around for over 150 years, we’re actually like a new charity in terms of where we are today compared to where we were last year. We have 50% more staff, new teams and new roles have been created. There has never been a better time to join!