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Project information

Focus on Learning at ME Connect - PROJECT CLOSED

THIS PROJECT IS NOW CLOSED. Our Focus on Learning Project will improve the training of our 30 helpline volunteers who all work from home. Through greater use of teleconferencing, it will engender a greater sense of community among people who are usually too ill to go to work or a call centre.

April 2012 - October 2013

Charity information: ME Association

ME Association logo
  • Need


    To bring professional training to a group of volunteers who are scattered round the UK at a time when the charity is unable to pay for additional training out of its own resources.


    Focus on Learning will recruit professional trainers to deliver five separate modules by teleconferencing on specialist subjects like coping with panic and anxiety attacks, coping with distressed callers and helping callers manage at work.

    The project will engender greater team spirit by enabling participants to share experiences and knowledge. Our volunteers are generally not well enough to travel to face-to-face group training sessions - hence the preference for teleconferencing.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To widen knowledge and share experiences through facilitated teleconference training.


    » By offering professional external trainers to deliver talks and circulate their training materials.

    What success will look like

    Success will be evident from feedback received from callers to the helpline, which is always carefully recorded and monitored, and from increased confidence among the volunteers.

    Aim 2

    To encourage volunteers to join facilitated discussion and to interact with each other.


    » Through facilitated training sessions that allow plenty of time for questions and general discussion.

    What success will look like

    Success will be seen when the volunteers themselves feel able to recommend improvements and bring in other prospective volunteers.

  • Impact


    There will be long-term increases in confidence and self-esteem expressed by the volunteers, together with a growth in the number of people coming forward with applications to join the service. This process will identify more people willing to take on lead roles within the service to occupy vacancies as they occur.

    When the financial situation improves, we shall seek recognised benchmark accreditation for the service.


    1) Loss of senior management – a pool of recognised alternative leaders has already been established, with some volunteers already taking on delegated roles in volunteer support, appraisal and the development of training materials.

    2) Sudden increases in volunteer departures - leaders already take on short-term extra work to maintain service and we need a small pool of volunteer reserves.

    3) Loss of internal funding - the ME Association at present has significant, unrestricted reserves.


    Generally, we can provide outcome reports at quarterly or six-monthly intervals which will be provided by the helpline manager.

    Our trustees and staff can make themselves available for personal discussion.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £5,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,500 Teleconference training Use of BT services or similar
      £2,000 Hire of facilitators Use of 5 lecturers + preparation time
      £500 Training materials Support materials for participants

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Mr Neil Riley £550 Guaranteed
    Mrs Ellen Jarvis £1,000 Guaranteed
    Mr Ewan Dale £550 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The training will be delivered through teleconferencing arranged through BT. The project throughout will be co-ordinated by our helpline manager Mrs Hilary Briars, who works from home at High Peak, Derbyshire.


    People either phoning or emailing our helpline. At present, the helpline receives approximately 5,000 calls a year, with 3,000 requests for information and support received by email.

    Indirectly, the project will benefit the trustees and staff of the ME Association charity who receive and act on anonymised feedback and regular, monthly reports on input received by the helpline and all measurable outcomes.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the UK's longest-established charity for people with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which affects 250,000 adults and children in the UK.

    The ME Connect telephone service is open every day of the year, for three periods of two hours each. No other ME charity in the UK delivers this level of service.

    The ME Association has a reputation bar none for communicating ME issues to the general public, influence-formers, sufferers and carers.

    We know how to deliver projects,

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Neil Riley, Chairman Of The Trustees, The ME Association

    Neil is the lead Trustee for our ME Connect service, and has taken a close interest in its work for the last six years or so.

    Hilary Briars, Helpline Manager, The ME Association

    Hilary will co-ordinate the project, and make sure it fulfils all objectives.