September’s Volunteer Coordinator Forum was in a very decadent venue, Victoria Baths - If you’ve not been it’s a must as it’s such a beautiful building. Roxy (Volunteer Coordinator) treated us to a brief tour and took some of the sheen off by sharing the, eco-friendly, but pretty horrible water recycling practice of days gone by, which consisted of emptying the first class pool water into the second class pool after two/three days, then emptying that same water into the women’s pool after another few days – ick!
Oven Ready Volunteer – We think not!
This month, one topic that got everyone nodding their heads in agreement is the myth of the ‘Oven Ready Volunteer’ a term coined by Active Communities Manager at Macc, Jack Puller or as one attendee said ‘it’s like you can just open a draw and out pops a volunteer’. Anyone working with volunteers knows that this just is not true, as much as managers, project coordinators or colleagues would like to believe it is.
This mentality also overlaps the idea that volunteers are a free resource, who can be called upon at any time, completely undermining the complex and determined role of volunteer coordinators - volunteers need coordinating. That’s not to say that lots of grassroots organisations don’t work with a high level of self organisation, but most VCSE groups don’t operate on that basis. Volunteer coordinators provide direction, structure, encouragement and have the ability to inspire people to give their time without the usual transitionary relationship of payment for labour, and importantly, the tenacity to reschedule at the last minute when this inevitable doesn’t always work out.
We are seeing more and more the erosion of this role, often part-time to begin with or tacked onto people’s ‘day jobs’. In order for an organisation to engage a diverse cohort of volunteers and benefit from the energy and skills that brings into the organisation, the role of the volunteer coordinator and the energy it takes to develop volunteers programmes must be valued, well-resourced and built into projects from the start. So often volunteer coordinators are spending most of their time supporting the current volunteers (imagine managing a team of 20, 30, 40.. 400 people oh and by the way – none of them are paid!). There’s not the time to plan ahead let alone time for the professional development needed be able to advocate for the resources needed to do the role effectively, this is event more poignant as we approach International Volunteer Managers Day.
Our answer to the misperception of the ‘Oven Ready’ volunteer should be that, although there is no such thing a well-resourced volunteer coordinator, there is the key ingredient to creating a cohort of volunteers that will move heaven and earth to be part of your cause.
For a good listen, tune in and catch up with the BBC In Business podcast’s episode ‘Managing Volunteers: Free and Easy?’
For peer support in between our VCF meet-ups join our new Slack Chanel which is open to anyone who wants a supportive online forum to chat to other Volunteer Coordinators.
Manchester ESOL Advisory Service
Following our discussion we had a presentation from Helen from the new Manchester ESOL Advice Service which is a central point of access to all ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses in Manchester. This brings together all the different charity, community and council ESOL courses to make it easier for learners to access and will hopefully be a really useful resources for your volunteers and service users.
Help! Volunteer Sector Assembly:
The focus of our next Manchester Voluntary Sector Assembly (VSA) will be Volunteering and Volunteer coordination in particular.
The VSA is a network of voluntary, community and social enterprises in the city. The assembly comes together for half a day, four times a year and these events are open to all representatives from these groups.
Purpose of the VSA:
- To strengthen the voice of the voluntary and community sector so we can support individuals and communities to have a real influence over where they live
- Improve communication across the sector to work together, and share ideas and best practice
- Increase the influence of the sector on strategic and policy decisions that affect individuals and communities
- Provide opportunities for the sector to learn, discuss key issues, and to develop shared ideas and collective actions
- Support collaboration between groups to deliver a wide range of activities and services in Manchester
We want to know what you’d love to hear more about at the VSA and what topics you really want to be covered. Please e-mail us and share your thoughts!
- Volunteers Newsletter (monthly) – open days, events, training
- Volunteer coordinators (monthly) – training, events, good news!
- Join our Slack chanel for the online Volunteer Coordinators Forum
- We would love organsiations to write guest blogs for the Volunteer Centre website so if you ahve something you want to share then please get in touch.
- Volunteer Centre Manchester Volunteering Surgery, the Rates Hall 1st Friday of the month. A drop-in for people looking to volunteer and organsiation looking for advice and guidance.
- Skill Givers is a project looking to connect organisations who support the community to get active with employer supported volunteer - please express your interest online if you want to find out more.
- Christmas opportunities: If any organisation has opportunities in the run up to Christmas and particularly on Christmas day then get in touch with us!
- Social Model of Disability Training – Breakthrough: Free interactive training, on Wednesday, 27 November from 3pm – 6pm. Volunteers and community groups can RSVP for a free space on a course.
- Assertiveness and Confidence (one day course) free community training for Manchester residents - Manchester Mind: 26 November, 2019 - 10:00 to 16:00 (Volunteers)
- Stress Management or Mindfulness workshop for Staff or Clients – Self Help Services: on request dependent on meeting the criteria (majority of attendees must have Manchester GP).
A big thank you to Roxy at Victoria Baths for hosting the VCF.
Our next meeting: Tuesday 19th November 2019, 10am - 12pm, Greenfish Resource Centre - Register here