We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

A Day in the Life of... Ruth Barnes

This is a series of Day in the Life of blogs we're running to give an insight into the team here at MVDA.
Ruth Barnes is our Volunteer Development Officer at MVDA working on the Step Forward Tees Valley programme.

How long have you been at MVDA?

Almost 4 years.

What did you do before you worked here?

Business As Usual Field Change Advisor for the North of England for Post Office Ltd and a Geography teacher.

What’s your morning routine before leaving the house?

I get up at 6.30am. I have 3 cats who won’t leave me alone until they get their breakfast, so that comes first! Then I get myself ready accompanied by lots of coffee. I like to be answering my emails in my home office by 7.30am.

Describe a typical morning at MVDA.

No such thing! I usually start by working through my participant list for the day, checking in, providing updates and completing the relevant paperwork.

I might then have a participant meeting where I work out what type of volunteering opportunity they are looking for and we decide on a plan of action to get them started.

I like to keep up to date with the volunteer needs of local charities so I may have a visit to somewhere such as the local hospice to work out what roles they have to fill, do they have any needs that MVDA could address and the journey a volunteer can expect to have with them.

What do you do for lunch? Got any favourite dishes or recommended cafes you go to?

I love the café at the Hope Foundation on Grange Road. Fresh food cooked on site mostly staffed by volunteers. I placed a volunteer there last year and now he has paid employment with them.

Describe a typical afternoon at MVDA.

I like to offer craft sessions to my participants to relieve isolation and improve their confidence so I regularly run a series of workshops such as fairy lanterns and dream catchers where we can learn new skills and get to know each other better. I often open them to the wider community as an engagement event also.


I also love to network so I am aware of other opportunities for the people I work with so I attend events such as the NCS social action pitches, the Teesside University community hub launch, careers fairs and volunteer coordinator forums.

How do you wind down in the evening? What happens after hours?

I am a dedicated cricket fan so I watch as much as I can. I also have a grandson who I love to babysit and who keeps me on my toes. I volunteer as a secretary for a local group so often have even more paperwork to catch up with on an evening. Cooking is a big passion so I enjoy having any/all of my children back home to feed as I still haven’t got out of the habit of catering for 6.

What’s the best part of your job?

Seeing people who wouldn’t even leave their homes, start to volunteer and get their zest for life back.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Having enough hours in the day to fit in everything I would like to get done!

What’s your biggest work achievement/something you’re most proud of that’s happened in the last 12 months?

In the last year, 4 people that I have started on their volunteer journey have taken on paid roles with the charity they were placed with.