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Five tips for volunteer managers

26th July 2018

Pet story

By Laura Shalev-Greene
Currently on sabbatical from her role as an award-winning Head of Volunteering, Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Being a Volunteer Manager in the NHS is a mystery role to many. Staff don’t quite understand what you do, and there’s no field to establish your credibility the way we understand other careers. Yet, all of us volunteer managers could club together and pull out the ‘must haves’ to success in the hospital-based volunteering that Helpforce is forging as central to excellence in NHS care.

Here are my top five tips for Volunteer Managers in hospitals:

  1. Observation: Spot opportunities for innovation and respond to need with an offer of a helpful volunteer.
  2. Be a shape-shifter: It’s a fine art to assimilate volunteering into the working lives of staff with busy lives. Volunteer managers need to build trust and rapport to support colleagues in medicine, nursing, support services, governance and community.
  3. Quantify kindness: If you’ve never done a social value return on investment, it’s time to learn about evaluating social change. As volunteer managers we have to look at the results to fire the passion of those we are working with.
  4. Passion for social action: There is an art and science to uniting a community of several hundred or even thousands of people behind a single cause. Volunteer managers can help bring trust, hope, and a shared vision to turn passive support to action through volunteering.
  5. Embrace discomfort: Emerging from the cushion of a large medical charity pre-economic crash, I found the NHS to be a landscape of infinite change. Everything from policy to personnel seemed to be in flux. If you can embrace the discomfort of evaluating and learning about the flaws in your service, then it’s possible to get passionate about quality, performance and continuous improvement.

I am very excited to be part of the Helpforce movement to make hospital volunteering the norm in NHS care.