Summary of general discussion on 25 January 2024

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Created by Debbie Ambrose
Last updated 3 months ago

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05 February 2024 at 9:29am


Thank you to the network members who joined us for this discussion. There was not a set topic for this session and as you will see below, we covered a wide range of subjects with lots of sharing and advice for each other.

Volunteer Management Software

  • Some of our guests have found Better Impact challenging because of the lack of time they have to invest in finding out what the system can do and watching the training videos.
  • The consensus was that once time has been invested to gain knowledge the system is extremely useful.
  • The ‘Live Chat’ function has been found to be particularly helpful to some.

Useful links

Volunteer requests for references

How long are volunteers required to have been in post before you will give them a reference?

There has been a growing influx of people using volunteering to gain references for future employment.

A lot of time and effort is required to onboard a new volunteer, so one organisation tries to establish at the start of the process if the prospective volunteer is looking for future employment. If they are looking for employment within health and care, they are steered towards employment rather than volunteering by offering them work experience in the area they are interested in.

  • Six months is generally the standard. However, this can vary depending on the hours volunteered in that period.

Staff and volunteer surveys

One organisation is looking at running staff and volunteer surveys with the specific intent to form future strategies. Lots of help and advice was shared by the group.

Some of the key points of advice

  • Make it as short as you can.
  • Make the questions easy to read and understand.
  • Expect your total of responses to be under 20%.
  • Try to use a more personal way to get people to take part. For example: If you have a captive audience in a training session.
  • Survey formats can include Texts and Microsoft Forms
  • Monthly networking meetings with volunteers are a fantastic way to get informal feedback.

Useful Links

Staff Engagement

  • Engage with staff whenever possible, particularly if you find that there is not always sufficient support for volunteers in some areas. Talk to the staff and ask them what they need from your volunteers.
  • Incorporate debriefs with both volunteers and staff.
  • One Trust is considering setting up a charter which will be signed by every team member who hosts volunteers in the ward or department.
  • Another Trust has set up an ‘Academy Ward’ as a training ground for volunteers.

Useful links


  • The consensus is that staff training is too in-depth for most volunteer roles and because of this it can often be a challenge to get volunteers to complete the process. The training also needs to be targeted at the service relevant for the volunteer.
  • A combination of E-Learning for Health and training embedded into Better Impact is extremely popular.
  • Face-to-face training in some areas has not been re-introduced since Covid. It was felt that for some elements face-to-face training was far more effective. A good example of this was given where a volunteer may want to help a frail patient who has had a fall. Face-to-face training would be a far more effective way of showing them what they should and should not do.
  • For new volunteers, shadowing another volunteer for a few shifts until they are confident can be helpful, and having handbooks for reference is extremely popular.

Useful links

Find more useful tips shared by network members in the Forum Library.

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