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Webinar recording: New ways of working with volunteers

Tags: Webinar

1st March 2021

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In this recording, two distinguished speakers shared their views on the future of volunteering in health and care, and what volunteering service leaders need to take into account when developing their volunteering strategy for the years to come.

We would like to thank Rob Jackson and Barry Pridmore for taking their time to speak at our webinar.

Their biography can be found below:

  • Rob Jackson - a consultant who has more than 26 years experience working in the voluntary and community sector, holding a variety of strategic development and senior management roles that have focused on leading and engaging volunteers.

  • Barry Pridmore - the new chair of the National Association of Voluntary Services Managers, and also the Head of Volunteering at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Summary:

Rob's section:

We knew change was coming to volunteering

  1. Demographics and diversity: It was already known that the age group of volunteers would change in the future. Those born pre 1945 typically gave huge amounts of their time to volunteer and it was known that this age group would at some point would no longer be a resource. Covid has sped this up as this age group have not been able to volunteer during the pandemic and a lot will not be able to or want to return. Similarly, we knew there would be a change with diversity in volunteering, and there is more attention on this -and rightly so - post the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
  2. Technology: Prior to Covid, volunteer managers would often not consider using technology as part of the working practice, claiming volunteers would push back at the suggestion. Over the last year, volunteers, some probably reluctantly, have adapted to the technology and embraced it. Perhaps the issue all along with Volunteer Managers being reluctant to use tech themselves?
  3. Short term & flexible opportunities: There has now been a huge boom in on-line volunteering and mutual aid, creating more created short term and more flexible opportunities.

A need to make the volunteer experience great from the start with a growing emphasis on making volunteering rewarding. This and much more are now very much a real issue.

Five things to considered over the next year or two:

  1. Policies for returning volunteers: Increasingly becoming a live issue for many organisations who involve volunteers, such as what policy will be in place for returned volunteers around Covid safe work place and Covide safe compliance, the treatment for paid staff and volunteers, etc.
  2. A short term volunteer slump: Once things start to return to ‘normal’, especially during the summer, people will want to go back to doing all the things they perhaps took for granted, such as seeing friends and families, visiting theatres/cinemas, going on holidays, so temporarily volunteering may drop in their priority list.
  3. Frictionless volunteering: Making it easier for volunteers to sign up without all the bureaucracy and checks is going to be a challenge. There are a lot who volunteered during Covid who did not have to go through the long process of checks. Those roles that did need checks were turned around really quickly. There is a need to manage expectations but at the same time this will need to be balanced to make sure that the right safeguarding measures are taken.
  4. Building back better: Organisations are debating whether the office space they had before is necessary, including the working practices and the forms of communication. Many conversations are not factoring in volunteering, such as technology accessibility where volunteers find it difficult to use Microsoft Teams, hence this has become a barrier for volunteers to volunteer remotely or engage with the organisations.
  5. Rethinking the role of volunteers in society: The vaccination programme has raised all kinds of opportunities. Roles have been formed where the volunteer is working directly with paid staff and not just alongside , i.e. volunteers giving the vaccinations. Now we have an opportunity to challenge the stereotyping and prejudices of what volunteers can or can't do.

Barry's section:

  1. The ongoing need for volunteers is critical in many areas to support healthcare. NHS policy and future plans in recent times have continued to include volunteering.

  2. National Profile of Volunteering: Recognised early in the pandemic that volunteers would play a key role and the Government recognised volunteers as key workers. Volunteers have been recognised with a lot of media coverage for their contribution to the pandemic and as volunteer leaders we need to build on this.

  3. Examples of Innovative volunteering solutions. Three quarters of a million people applied to be NHS responders in the first 48 hours, but were not asked to do regular shifts, enabling volunteers to be more flexible.

  4. Volunteering opportunities: Many roles have been suspended and volunteer managers have had to be creative to meet the needs and think of new ways for people to volunteer.

  5. Limiting barriers to involvement during the pandemic? Data protection, Disclosure and Barring Services, Occupational Health checks. There is some guidance from ICO but there is a need for organisations to have a pragmatic approach to data protection.

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