Summary of Focused discussion group - 10 January 2024

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Created by Debbie Ambrose
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12 January 2024 at 11:59am


Network members focussed discussion group held on 10 January 2024



There is still a big demand for volunteers, however, many organisations have found recruitment difficult over the last 12 months. It is generally thought that some of this could be down to the high rise in the cost of living. Many people are taking on second jobs, not retiring early or even going back to work after retirement leaving them little or no time for volunteering.

Those that can give some time to volunteer are often looking for ad hoc hours. For some organisations this can be difficult to accommodate as they need regular commitment from the volunteers to build up relationships with patients.

Last year one organisation had an increase in applications from asylum seekers and refugees. The biggest challenge was around a lack of documentation. The whole process was time-consuming as it was impossible to have a standard operating procedure because of the wide variety of circumstances. There are many outside organisations who are experienced in this field that can help to make the process smoother.

Risk assessments for volunteers with additional needs

Some organisations use their staff employment policies. If you have an Occupational Health department, they should be able to work with you and the volunteers to come up with appropriate amendments.

Most volunteering roles can be adapted by working with the individual to find out about their strengths and support needs.

Volunteer to Career

Two of our guests are part of the Volunteer to Career programme and whilst both found last year challenging, mainly due to circumstances beyond their control, overall, the systemic changes that have occurred because of the programme have made it worthwhile.

Long term funding

The need for consistent funding for volunteer services has often come up in network members discussions. There is now greater understanding of how volunteers can have a much-needed impact on health and social care. However, this needs to be followed up with long-term funding to build and sustain capacity.

Top tips:

  1. Have a three-year strategy that includes funding for the service.
  2. Keep your volunteering service visible and relevant by developing a senior leadership group that meets regularly to look at how the service can be further developed to cover the needs of the organisation.
  3. The value of attending face-to-face networking events with a senior leader can be priceless.

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