Summary of focused discussion group - 17 January 2024

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Created by Debbie Ambrose
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19 January 2024 at 2:01pm


Planning ahead for 2024

17 January 2024

Our guests who joined this conversation will be facing many challenges this year. However, everyone looked to the year ahead with a positive attitude and good strategies in place.

Here are just a few highlights of the ambitions and challenges discussed for 2024


This topic and the challenges organisations are facing has come up in many of our discussion groups over the last 12 months. The demographic of volunteers has changed dramatically, and long-term volunteering is no longer the norm. There are many factors that are influencing this change and include the increase in retirement age and cost of living rises.

An ambulance service on the call mentioned that they were struggling to find drivers, however, Community First Responders were easier to recruit as it is seen as career progression.

There were lots of thoughts and actions being put in place to revive interest in volunteering and encouraging people to volunteer long-term and become part of a community.

Making a volunteering role more interesting was on the agenda of one guest. Historically their ward volunteers ran the tea trolley service. Now the role has been expanded to make it more varied and enjoyable and includes tasks such as assisting housekeepers, preparing bedsides for mealtime, helping to give out the lunch trays, sitting and chatting to patients, changing the water for flowers and involvement in patient activities.

Other suggestions to help make volunteering more attractive to new volunteers and to help maintain existing volunteers included working with other organisation to make portability easier, so that volunteers can engage with roles across different organisations without having to repeat onboarding and training processes.

Another idea was around using ‘Volunteer to Career’ to help with the high turnover of Health Care Assistants. This organisation has found that, for some HCA’s, they were unprepared for the reality of working in a hospital. By using Volunteer to Career as a pathway, the person will understand the role and environment before embarking on that career, resulting in lower staff turnover.


This is high on everyone’s agenda and the discussion was around the sustainability of successful projects and how system-wide funding needs to be secured to keep these projects running efficiently.

Database systems

Another great discussion on the variety of database systems being used and how some work better than others. Some have found that recording volunteer training on some database systems can be challenging. A lot of our guests are planning to do a data cleanse on their systems.

Mandatory training

This is another topic that often comes up in our discussion groups. The consensus is that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. Training requires flexibility to meet the needs of the volunteers required to do it.

Can you help?

The organisation of one of our guests provides healthcare in 9 prisons. They also place volunteers in this setting, and the Volunteer Services Manager would love to chat with anyone working or who has experience in this area. Please go to this Forum link where you can chat via email. Forum post link

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