We organise a virtual volunteer co-ordinators meeting once a month, providing an online, networking and learning opportunity designed to bring volunteer co-ordinators from Middlesbrough together to connect and share, learn with and from each other as well as develop best practices for engaging volunteers.
Summary of previous meetings (most recent first)
Kerri Brems from Arch helped facilitate a session on Sexual Violence Awareness, in conjunction with the Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2023. Staff and volunteers from various voluntary and community organisations joined us and engaged in open and honest discussions about a sensitive topic.
The session objectives:
- To equip learners with knowledge around sexual violence and abuse.
- To understand issues such as consent, and myths and stereotypes identified with sexual violence and abuse.
- Understand trauma responses and the impact of sexual violence and abuse on victims and survivors.
- To explore how to work with victims of sexual violence and abuse.
Here are some feedback comments:
- ‘Really useful and informative session- a difficult topic delivered brilliantly. Great to know about different types of support available from Arch. Will share with our team.’
- ‘Very informative. Evoked great and interesting conversations. Great to hear about different services available’
- ‘Brilliant, insightful information given in a way you can understand.’
- ‘Today was an eye opener and really informative. Was good to have the opportunity to come along! ‘
Our volunteer coordinators forum was a great session as along with usual interactions and discussions with volunteer coordinators, it was a platform for volunteers as well. The volunteers who could attend, shared their experiences, ideas and felt that coming to such a session has boosted their confidence and a sense of recognition.
Here are some feedback quotes:
‘Having volunteers along was a great idea and worked really well.’
‘I was pleased to come along as a volunteer, I found it very interesting and informative, thanks.’
‘Thanks great to get together face to face, let’s get more volunteers together talking to each other.’
We are hoping to continue to engage with volunteers in our future sessions. Would love to find out what you think of this idea and how we can facilitate such sessions in the future.
At the session we shared with the participants, findings from the recent survey that we had conducted and also what we plan to do going forward.
We had a discussion session where we explored a couple of topics:
- Measuring volunteer impact - Looking into the future exercise.
- Recruiting volunteers - How to attract more and diverse volunteers – perspective from volunteer and coordinator
Ashley and Josie from Volunteero (a volunteer management software) who had kindly sponsored the session shared with us some of their insights into volunteer management and how their software can help. Here is a link to their site: Volunteero: Volunteer Management Revolutionised. (Other software tools are available and this is not an endorsement)
Also, there was a query about software to help websites be more accessible and Josie from Volunteroo has shared this:
‘I just wanted to share the link to the accessibility organisation I mentioned to the lady who was asking (apologies forgot her name) if you wouldn't mind passing on.
I haven't fully looked into it yet myself, but it came recommended by an organisation we work with.
As part of the discussion it was identified that having more opportunities for training was something that a lot of participants identified. Here are some of the things that people were interested in:
- Training available for volunteers
- any networking with different organisations
- I am very interested in the volunteer passport I think it’s a good idea
- I would be interested in training opportunities, forums, get togethers (informal)
- Training and development anything relevant,
- Anything and everything always a good forum
- Volunteer networking
- Volunteer passport/academy
- Specialist training from other organisations on their speciality
We agreed that it will be good to tap into the skills, expertise and knowledge of our wonderful volunteer coordinators (you) and ask help to facilitate training sessions on different topics. The idea is that someone who works in an area such as mental health/ domestic violence etc can help share some basics with our forum members and potentially open it up to volunteers as well.
Thanks to Mark Eltringham from Recovery Connections, we hosted this session at their allotment in Beechwood. The open space, Mark’s homemade soup, artisan bread, and the lovely company (including some chickens that seemed to like being around us pecking our feet ) lent itself to some open, interesting, and collaborative conversations.
We had an interesting and diverse mix of participants including some from the grassroots level organisations, council staff, and voluntary and community sector organisations. Since these sessions are all about making and developing connections, we started off with a fun connection activity that led us to find out more about each other.
The new Tees Valley Volunteer Charter was introduced to the participants and were asked to share their opinion and thoughts on the charter and what support they would require to help them align with the principles of the charter. The following are some of the thoughts shared:
- It will help in promoting and reinforcing good practice in volunteer management
- Will be a helpful tool to engage with their own organisation’s stakeholders including trustees, volunteers, staff, etc.
- Will make way for peer support among volunteer coordinators
- Potentially help with issues such as drop-in interest in volunteering, volunteer retention etc.
- Recognition that the way each organisation will use this charter will be different depending upon its, size, nature of work, etc.
Some of the other things that were discussed:
- Having such a forum/space that involves volunteers as well as will be good to hear from them as well
- Annemarie from Tees valley buddies shared about her project and her offer to help VIOs understand neurodiversity better
- Douglas Hewitson shared information about the Middlesbrough councils 50 futures project
- The suggestion of organisations to use these sessions to share information and good practice from their areas of expertise was well-received (we will send a call-out email to identify speakers for the future sessions)
Finally, having done all this hard work …, we ended the day with some campfire cooking, with delicious soup and lovely home baked sourdough bread as lunch. Thanks to everyone who brought some more food along to share with the team.
We ended the day on a positive note and with an agreement that we loved the format of the session and will be good to have such sessions in the future as well. So if you missed the fun this time..do join us in the future ones.
This was a long-due catch-up where we discussed a lot of things including a reflection on the last year, achievements as well as disappointments. As this was a reboot of the forum, we also spoke about what we wanted to get out of the forum. Here are a few suggestions:
- Connections, networking, and sharing experiences
- Get an idea about what other people are doing
- Inform others about what your organisation is doing
- Become aware of opportunities
- Share best practice
- Best to hold a forum once in two months
Some of the participants shared the issues they are having with recruiting and managing volunteers especially because of the pandemic. We agreed to use this forum to help each other and one of the ideas we explored was sharing volunteers as well as the concept of a volunteer passport that will make it easy for volunteers to move between organisations.
My Sisters Place have agreed that they facilitate a small workshop on the ‘ASK ME’ project to help us understand domestic violence and how to respond to survivors. Another topic identified for a future session is information on storytelling as a way of capturing volunteering impact.
20 October 2020: Nicholas Alogba, volunteer lead from Rugby League World Cup joined us to talk about the event coming to Tees valley, volunteering opportunities that the event brings as well as legacy plans. Click here for the Rugby League presentation.
Objectives of the Rugby League volunteering programme:
- Deploy a team of world class volunteers to deliver the biggest and best RLWC
- Engage new and diverse audience of volunteers into Rugby League
- To deliver an inclusive, diverse and accessible volunteer programme
We also had a chat about 2 recent reports with insights into volunteering: Kruger Report and MoVE Report. There was a discussion on some of the highlight of the reports and ways in which we can adapt our volunteering offer to connect with emerging needs. Click here for the presentation.
15 September 2020
10 June 2020: The discussion looked at whether organisations were making any plans to bring back their volunteers and what preparations were they making. They were encourage to follow CIPD guidance. The need for new risk assessments was broached as part of a new volunteer handbook and organisations were asked to check their insurance details going forward. There was a discussion on volunteering safely following NVCO guidelines and a reminder that mental health issues should be addressed as an ongoing concern.
26 May 2020
There was a discussion about safe ways in which volunteers can be brought back and the issue of keeping volunteers engaged and motivated was highlighted. Participants shared ways in which they are keeping in touch with their volunteers. A few safegaurding scenarios were discussed and views were exchanged about ways in which such situations can be approached with some focus on what activities come under regulated activity. Information about Volunteer Week as well as MVDA's current volunteering opportunities webpage that listed COVID-19 opportunities as well as remote ones was shared. Opinon about establishing an online forum for volunteer co-ordinaors using tools such as Slack or Trello was sought. It was also agreed that it would be good to rotate days for organising the virtual meeting to enable more people to participate.