International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMDay) was founded and observed for the first time in 1999. It is celebrated every year on November the 5th. This year, it is in its 20th year, and is under the theme “Change the Tune!” to reflect the frustrations experienced in the sector and giving a chance for us to differently about how volunteer leadership is positioned – in the hope that we can change the dialogue. Read more about it here.
Today we are sharing the stories of Volunteer Co-ordinators across Manchester to help raise the profile of the role and the skill that goes into making volunteering happen! Share your stories using the hashtag #IVMDay2019 and remember to tag us on Twitter!
Name: Samantha Hipkiss
Organisation: Creative Together (Creative Support)
What inspired you to want to work with volunteers?
I've volunteered in lots of different roles over the last 15 years and really appreciate the range of opportunities I've been involved in. From volunteering with arts, music, literature and film festivals and charities I've been lucky to gain a great deal of experience in a variety of roles which have definitely helped me develop skills and confidence I can use in my career. Because of the experience I've had volunteering it's really important for me to provide these experiences and opportunities to other people. Working with volunteers means I can support others to develop their skills, meet new people and try out new things in an inclusive and welcoming environment. As we work with both client and community volunteers our centre really benefits from the diversity of skills and experiences our volunteers bring!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
No two days are the same but my days usually include... Getting the centre ready to open for the day, health and safety checks, finance checks catching up on emails and phone calls, briefing volunteers, welcoming our service users into the centre, setting aside time to create marketing materials and update our social media page for the centre and making sure I get lunch in our lovely cafe.
What is the thing that you love most about your job?
Being able to work with so many different people and hopefully helping to make someone's day.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Making sure I set aside time to properly support volunteers and staff.
What advice would you give to someone new to the role of managing volunteers?
Remember that volunteers are a key part of the team, never ever an afterthought! Try to remember what motivated you to volunteer in the past and what kept you engaged and use this to create a great volunteering experience for your volunteers.
What is your favourite volunteer-related memory/experience?
It's actually one of my own volunteering experiences and reminds me why volunteering is so important!
As an extremely shy, introverted 14 year old I started volunteering at a specialist horse riding centre for children with disabilities (I still don't know why I chose to volunteer there as as I'm terrified of horses!!). When I first started I was painfully shy and quiet, so shy I would turn bright red if anyone so much as looked at me!. However while volunteering I started to gain a little confidence and began talking to people. Over the 2 years I volunteered I'd help out once a week where I'd support during the horse riding sessions, work with the children to clean and put everything away after the session and slowly improved my confidence while the children taught me everything they knew about horses.
After I'd volunteered there for a while I remember helping out at a fundraising day and being responsible for a game (something similar to 'guess how many sweets are in the jar') and at the end of the day I was so proud of myself for overcoming my shyness to talk to customers and raise money for the centre!
Now I've had jobs where I've run training sessions across the country, attended conferences and given speeches - although speeches definitely still aren't my favourite thing to do I attribute this to starting volunteering all those years ago.
Any words of wisdom for volunteers?
Believe in yourself and remember you're just as important a part of an organisation, and often more important, than the staff, executives and CEO!
Finally, what song sums up your experience working with volunteers?
Cat Stevens - If you want to sing out