By Jay Morris,2014-05-17 18:56
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o Volunteers coming forward for management training are keen to go forward for accreditation in volunteer management Smaller organisations find it difficult


In Attendance: Mary Lynch Fermanagh Volunteer

     Michele Lamont Lisburn Volunteer Centre

     Edele McGirr Omagh Volunteer Centre

     Mary McNickle Limavady Volunteer Centre

     Lindsay Armstrong VSB - Belfast & Castlereagh Volunteer Centre

     Ruth Murray VSB - North Down & Ards Volunteer Centre

     Gemma Brolly Newry & Mourne Volunteer Centre

     Brian Douglas Craigavon & Banbridge Volunteer Centre

     Rachel Wetherall Causeway Volunteer Centre

     Cherry Dickson Cookstown & Magherafelt Volunteer Centre

     Anne Cummings Causeway Volunteer Centre

     Geoff Hunter North West Volunteer Centre

     Kate Campbell VSB - Belfast & Castlereagh Volunteer Centre

     Neil Gillan Armagh & Dungannon Volunteer Centre

     Jane Gribbin Volunteer Development Agency

     Harry Armstrong Dept for Social Development (Facilitator)

     Marian Gallagher Dept for Social Development (Secretariat)

     Suzanne Wilson Dept for Social Development (Observer)

     Damian McNally Dept for Social Development (Observer)

    1) Promoting the Value and Benefits of Volunteering

    ? Why is volunteering important and do we have enough volunteers?

    o Many organisations couldn’t function without volunteers (wouldn’t be able to

    provide a service due to insufficient staff and unable to employ more lack of


    o Gives a sense of purpose to the individual

    o Develop new skills

    o Meet people (develop or enhance opportunities to socialise)

    o Volunteer centres have enough volunteers to keep them busy but demand from

    organisations cannot be satisfied (organisations are constantly looking for

    volunteers to meet changing needs in society longer opening hours during the

    week and weekend opening)

    o Volunteer centres need to use the database & match volunteers on the list with

    existing vacancies before recruiting more volunteers

    o Organisations expect volunteer centres to have volunteers on “tap” when they

    need them which isn’t always possible (organisations looking “X” amount of 1 volunteers for flag days at short notice)

o Organisations must play a part in /promoting volunteering within their own local


    o Volunteering is about developing communities/people and giving a good quality


    ? What are the barriers that stop people volunteering?

    o Culturally people do not understand the ethos of volunteering providing a

    service/working for an organisation and not receiving any wages (no financial

    reward - peoples attitude needs to be changed) o Volunteer Issues (lack of confidence, low self esteem) o Languages (now a greater variety of cultures within N.Ireland and organisations

    need to give some thought to having their literature printed in different

    languages to make it all inclusive)

    o Carers Responsibilities (eg: availability of respite care) DSD to look at this


    o Accessibility (for disabled people)

    o Lack of Information

    o Lack of knowledge

    o Many volunteers do not see themselves as volunteers (eg: churches etc see

    themselves as lay people helping out through duty) o Lack of good practice

    o Concerns over Social Security Benefits (SSA staff do not know the rules around

    volunteering whilst claiming benefit people are fearful of having benefits

    suspended or losing benefit entitlement)

    o Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) very difficult to get local employers

    on board and recognise the value

    o Volunteer centres feel that they are sometimes in competition with Business in

    the Community (BITC)

    o Volunteer centres receive no reciprocation from BITC for partnership in

    volunteering day (recent example in Newry/Mourne BITC newspaper article

    made no mention of the involvement of the local volunteer centre)

    ? Are the contributions made by volunteers widely recognised?

    o Volunteers are generally recognised within their own organisation but not by

    society in general (lack of knowledge/awareness general public do not know

    enough about volunteering within their communities) o Government and statutory organisations (eg: Health Dept) are not doing

    enough to recognise volunteers

    o Armagh Council and Down/Lisburn District have planned events to recognise

    local volunteers (good development and a step forward)


2) Enhancing Accessibility and Diversity within Volunteering

    ? How do people find out about volunteer experience?

    o Word of Mouth

    o Organisations Website

    o Literature (greater variety in cultures within N.Ireland and therefore

    organisations need to look at their leaflets etc and ensure that it is all inclusive

    eg printed in different languages and also available in larger print etc) o Referral from Agencies

    o National Campaigns

    o Media

    o Public notices (churches, libraries, schools etc)

    o Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) (difficult to implement but it is a useful


    ? How can we make it easier to find out about information about volunteering?

    o On-Line registration

    o Distribution of promotional materials (eg: libraries, schools, colleges universities,

    churches etc)

    o Keep process as simple as possible (forms, websites, registration etc) o Networking with Referral Agencies (education/awareness programmes as to

    what volunteering is)

    o Image (material needs to portray a positive image inclusive of cultural backgrounds/languages etc)

    o Breakdown of barriers

    o Use free local papers

    o Networking with organisations (through partnerships, committees etc)

    ? How diverse are the people coming forward to volunteer and who is not coming


    o Students

    o Young women

    o Over 50’s

    o Shortage of ethnic minority groups (Polish, Irish Travellers, Chinese) o Shortage of men (particularly young men)

    o Disabled people

    ? How can we make volunteering truly inclusive?

    o Range of volunteering opportunities available (type, flexibility, times, location) o Recognition and the feeling that a volunteer can make a difference


    o Incentives working towards something (eg: volunteering certificate, volunteer of the year)

    o Volunteer testimonies/good news stories (organisations should make good use of the free local newspapers to promote their volunteers and the work of the


    o Out of pocket expenses (very important that volunteers are re-imbursed for fuel/

    public transport costs etc)

    o User friendly

    o Volunteer Champions especially men

    o Promote good practices within the organisation(s)

    3) Improving the Volunteering Experience

    ? What makes a good volunteer experience and what doesn’t?

    o Good recruitment initial contact, interview, safe environment, support,

    induction, evaluation and timescale

    o Good matching of skills against available opportunity (well thought out


    o Role description & specs

    o Good policy to practice (policies must be put into practice otherwise it is a

    pointless paper exercise)

    o Training (very important particularly child protection, health & safety etc)

    o Absence of some or all of the above can lead to a poor/disappointing

    experience for the volunteer and the organisation

    o Time, Costs, Commitment

    o Feeling respected and valued

    o Dedicated worker/manager (providing advice and support for volunteers)

    o Good volunteer management and support from the volunteer centres that

    involves volunteer input and feedback

    o Re-imbursement of expenses (fuel, public transport costs etc)

    o Lack of knowledge

    o Lack of confidence and skills

    o Lack of capacity building, illness

    o Accessibility (travel)

    o Disability and transport

    o Language

    o Gender Issues


     o Equality Issues

    o Unable to take leave

    o Difficult question which is vulnerable to subjectivity but generally feedback is

    positive (volunteer centres state that part of their role is to support organisations

    in the delivery of good practice)

    o Perception is that opportunities may be one dimensional(small study indicated

    that promotion & marketing of opportunities needs to be improved & sound


4) Supporting and Strengthening Volunteer Involving Organisations

    and the Volunteering Infrastructure

    ? To what extent are local volunteer involving organisations aware of the

    volunteer centres and what you do?

    o Most organisations are aware of the functions of the volunteer centres (good

    communication & commitment within the centres, good partnerships,

    networking and good practices keep organisations aware of what’s going on in

    the centres)

    o Core group of volunteer involving organisations would be very aware of

    volunteer centres and have regular contact with the centres

    o Others would be aware of certain aspects of the work of volunteer centres

    ? To what extent are the public and media aware of the work of the volunteer

    centres and how could the awareness be raised in volunteer involving

    organisations and in the public?

    o Major Media Campaign (pro-active promotion in the local media helps to raise

    awareness of volunteer centres)

    o Volunteer centres need to develop and build relationships with the local media

    (important in ensuring that a high profile is given in media advertising)

    o Volunteer centres are getting good news stories into local but would be unsure

    that the general public are actually reading the information

    o More needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the general public

    (possibly involve local radio stations, information and awareness days in local

    shopping centres, social gatherings etc)

    o Some know that the volunteer centres exist but wouldn’t know what their role is

    and what they do

    o Some organisations/people are not aware that the volunteer centres are part of

    a support network

    o National campaigns (volunteer centres raising profile as a network)

    o Local campaigns (individual volunteer centres raising their profile in their local



    o Conference high profile on volunteering (network commenting on news issues

    about volunteering & issues to tie into & relate to volunteering, representation

    from volunteer centres network on other networks)

    ? What do volunteer involving organisations need to effectively recruit and

    support volunteers?

    o Good planning (recruitment & selection procedures relevant to volunteer roles)

    o Develop volunteer policy

    o Training programmes (volunteers need to know that they will receive the

    necessary training and development needed to have a meaningful and safe

    volunteering experience eg: in particular child protection, Health & Safety is a

    big issue)

    o Identify the proper target groups

    o Resources

    o Target resources effectively and appropriately

    o Locally and nationally led marketing campaign

    o Look at the broader aspect community development approach

    o Empowerment and mobilising people & the community

    o Mutual Benefits (what people and the organisation will get from the experience)

    o Good volunteer management and support

    o Induction to the organisation

    o Make volunteer feel like part of the organisation (ensure that all staff are aware

    of who the volunteer is and reason for being there)

    ? Are volunteer involving organisations aware of their legal obligations (insurance,

    POCVA etc) and do they use the volunteer centres to assist?

    o Bigger organisations are aware of their legal requirements and look to volunteer

    centres for support and help with these matters o Smaller organisations are not always aware of legal requirements and therefore

    need to provide ongoing support and advice o Organisations are becoming more aware of child protection and cannot be

    funded until policies and good practices are in place o Increasing awareness amongst organisations that volunteer centres can play a

    big role in helping them with recruitment/ support of volunteers (training, help

    with induction packs, letter templates - interviews, appointments etc)

    ? Is there an appetite for training/accreditation in volunteer management?

    o Volunteers coming forward for management training are keen to go forward for

    accreditation in volunteer management Smaller organisations find it difficult to

    fund training due lack of funding/resources available training not a priority


o Volunteer centres need to work with organisations to identify and recruit the

    appropriate people for volunteer management training

o Volunteer management training is important, but there is no appetite for this

    training due to internal demands within organisations

    o Accreditation in volunteer management training is good to have on a CV

    o Community / Voluntary Sector Agenda is policy driven (difficulty how

    meaningful is it?)

    ? What should be the priorities for the regional (Volunteer Development Agency)

    and local infrastructure organisations (volunteer centres)?

    o Volunteer centres and Volunteer Development Agency are playing a more

    prominent role in relation to POCVA training

    o POCVA VDA/VC’s have the ability to strengthen the delivery of child

    protection as presently organisations have different standards of training and

    awareness (clear role here for volunteer centres) o Volunteer centres should be better equipped to deliver volunteer management

    training (attracting and selecting)

    o Volunteer centres are becoming more involved in training and development


    o Training courses need to be more flexible to meet the demands of both

    volunteer managers and volunteers (many of the people who volunteer and

    manage volunteers, are in full time employment and cannot get time off to go

    on training courses there is a need for training to be delivered in the evenings

    and week-ends)

    o POCVA in partnership is a big help to volunteer centres and organisations


    o Ensure that organisations are aware of their legal and insurance requirements

    (grey area for organisations lack of knowledge) o Build a relationship with BITC which will have mutual respect of each


    o ESV needs to be assessed too many players in the equation with the

    involvement of BITC (Issue for DSD) o Dept for Social Development is signed up to ESV Dept needs to sort out and

    advise volunteer centres of their role (centres feel that they are caught between

    a rock and a hard place)

    o Relationships are frayed through volunteer centres not knowing their role

    o Priorities for VDA/VC’s should be less about advertising and more about

    working with organisations to improve their ability to support volunteers.


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