The recruitment process started in March, when we put the posters out in the library and undertook informal interviews. Each new volunteer that we accepted needed to either fill in a CRB form, or provide parental consent, and sign an agreement. They then had to come in for one of three hour long training sessions before the SRC was launched in mid-July. It was at this point that the 5 volunteers failed to make contact to tell me they were dropping out. I tried ringing and emailing but was only able to speak to one 16 year old girl and was informed by the mother of another. During each training session, each volunteer was talked through and given a pack that included: A step-by-step guide to how the SRC is run in Wiltshire A guide to safeguarding children with FAQs A list of books that they could recommend Contacts They were also introduced to staff and given a tour of library and stock In addition to this training, volunteers were supervised when they first began, to ensure they felt confident to do it on their own. They were always encouraged to ask for help at anytime no matter how small the query.
Example - Just read bold bits
Document 2 Poster for SRC volunteers
A Criminal Bureau Record check - essential (will be sorted out if appointed) Applications will be accepted from younger applicants (15+) as well as adults Commitment : Will vary in each library - to be agreed with Librarian At least one 3 hour session per week, morning or afternoon, for 6 weeks (or the equivalent) i.e. minimum of 16 hours commitment This may include some Saturdays and other busy times e.g. lunchtimes Length of Opportunity : The Summer Reading Challenge 2011 runs from 16 July to 3 September 2011 (7 weeks), so volunteers would be needed throughout this period (specific times to be agreed with the Librarian) Expenses : n/a Selection process: Depending on the number of suitable applicants we may have to restrict the number of placements we can offer in individual libraries Training : Training to be arranged and provided locally – session to cover the purpose of the Reading Challenge, Children’s If interested: Please ask a member of staff for an application form Closing date 30 April 2011
You are not expected to do a formal interview like we do for staff, but there are certain areas you will need to cover. Depending on who the potential volunteer is (e.g. a teacher or full time mum) you may need to ask more questions/probe deeper. You will need to cover the following questions. Question 2 Likes and is empathetic with children (aged 4-11) Ask them what are the important qualities for working with CYP, we are looking for someone who: Is friendly and patient Is good at verbally communicating with children and their accompanying family and friends At the end of the session you may wish to “appoint” straight away or consider your options, especially if you are seeing a number of volunteers, tell them when you will be in touch.
listening to children talk about the books they have read Encouraging children in their reading - to complete the challenge (we prefer to approach this through fun and enthusiasm rather than too serious or school-like) Encouraging children to explore new and different reading choices – key message - children don’t have to read one type of book Giving out stickers and other incentives and registering children for the challenge- the mechanics Ask how they feel about dealing with difficult people? Have they had to do this before? What did they do? What would they do if it happened in the library? Give them possible (though unlikely) scenarios e.g. an adult library user who complained about the noise made by children or a parent who is complaining about some aspect of the challenge. Go through how to deal with – being polite, listening and referring to a member of staff. Talk about when they are going to be available. We are looking for commitment of ideally at least 16 hours ideally – this can be over a number of sessions – to be agreed between you and them Talk about what they can expect from us: Training to be arranged locally (or possibly in another library) – approx 1 hour session to cover the purpose of the Reading Challenge, Children’s Library Services generally and overview of Children’s Books currently available. Regular supervision – will be someone designated to supervise/support them Will be observed closely initially If we feel they are not suitable after being observed, they will be asked to leave Talk about what we expect from them Reliability – let us know asap if they wish to stop volunteering or can’t make agreed sessions They will be seen as a member of staff – it is important that the image to customers is a positive one e.g. if it is not busy - bring something to read/to do/look professional/busy or ask supervisor for something to do They will need to have a CRB check (if 16 or older and if not had one in last 3 years with Wiltshire Council), explain what this means if they don’t have one.
We also have descriptions and do this for different age groups
Timetabling I created a very basic timetable that broke into two-hour slots, from opening time until we closed each day for the six weeks that the scheme ran. This was kept in a folder with the SRC box, which contained bookmarks, stickers, membership cards etc. All volunteers were told verbally and in their guides, that our busiest times were on Monday mornings, and each day between 12-2. We encouraged at least 2 people to sign up for each shift and to let us know if they would be unable to come in.
Chippenham is a busy library and staff would have been unable to cope with the volume of children taking part in the challenge without the help of the volunteers. Under staff supervision the volunteers were responsible for registering children taking part in the challenge, listening to their book reviews and giving them their rewards.
Library staff regularly checked on volunteers and made sure that they felt supported. This gave us regular feedback on what was and wasn’t working. At the end of the summer, each volunteer was also given an evaluation form and told they could fill it in anonymously.
The register did not accurately credit children for the books that they had read. This is important for the children’s self-esteem and because their results were fed back to schools to be celebrated in assemblies. With so many volunteers, close monitoring of individual work was not possible. The time it took to remedy these mistakes equated to roughly 7 hours on the phone to clarify information. This contact revealed and remedied 40% of mistakes on the register. As well as listening to the children talk about the books, providing the incentives, and logging the books on the register, we asked them to create a star display for children who had read 2, 4 and 6 books.
Put a greater focus on choosing volunteers with good people skills Being realistic and clear about what volunteers are signing up for, about how much time they are expected to commit to and ensuring the importance of turning up regularly and on time Emphasising the importance of accurately recording information Communicate reality of consequences to the child if errors are made (e.g. missing a child out in assembly) Clearly communicate that either party can end the volunteer opportunity at any time
Case Study on Working with Volunteers at Chippenham Library Summer Reading Challenge 2010 Tracy Hager [email_address]
In Wiltshire we feel that listening to children talk about their books helps link us to our communities, increases our book knowledge and helps children with their communication skills, confidence and reading comprehension. Without volunteers, we would not have the capacity to engage with these readers as profoundly.
Guidance notes for staff running SRC volunteer training sessions
Handout for SRC volunteers
Books to recommend for the SRC 2011
Document 1 Staff FAQs on recruiting SRC volunteers
What is the minimum age for a volunteer?
The minimum age for a volunteer is 15, the same minimum age we would recruit a member of staff
How are we publicising the opportunity?
Posters will be created centrally and sent out to libraries in March, to display prominently in libraries
SH will also arrange for the opportunity to be advertised on the do-it.org.uk volunteering database; details of any people who volunteer through this route will be emailed to Sarah Hillier, who will forward to the relevant librarian to then contact.
When is the closing date for applications?
An early closing date is set for applications (end April), in order for volunteers to go through the CRB process, however there is leeway with this.
If you have a late application from a potentially good volunteer with a current CRB (less than 3 years old) you can accept this application quite late (May/June), especially if you need more volunteers (this is up to the local librarian).
If you have a late application from a potentially good volunteer ( without a current CRB), you can still accept their application, but with absolute deadline of end May (6 weeks before challenge start).
Who requires a CRB check?
All new SRC volunteers that do not have a current CRB check (i.e. less than 3 years old and issued through Wiltshire Council) and are at least 16 years old
Current CRB checks issued through Wiltshire Council for people who work in schools or similar are acceptable
15 year olds do not require checks
The potential volunteer needs to bring in the original (or copy) for staff to see.
Contact Tracey Kilbane at HQ for CRB application forms and details
Your name has been given by the person named above in support of their application to
become a Summer Reading Challenge volunteer in [name of] library during July and
August this year.
This opportunity involves registering children aged 4-11 for the Summer Reading
Challenge, listening to them talk about the books read and encouraging their reading, as
well as giving out stickers and other incentives.
We are looking for someone who likes and is empathetic with children of this age. They
must be confident, reliable, friendly and patient, also good at verbally communicating with
children, their accompanying family and friends. An interest in books and reading is also
I would be grateful if you could answer the questions on the accompanying form
concerning the suitability of this applicant for the opportunity I have described.
Please return the reference form to the person applying for the volunteering opportunity
or to the library mentioned above. Thank you for your assistance in this matter
Document 7 Under 18s consent form & risk assessment
Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer 2011
Parent / Guardian Consent Form for under 18s
I give consent for my son/daughter ……………………………………………………………. (insert full name of child in BLOCK CAPITALS ) to volunteer at ……………. Library as a Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer
I confirm that I have read the Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer Role Description
I give my consent for library staff to contact my son/daughter via email and/or telephone in relation to the placement
I understand that, while the library staff will take all reasonable care of my child, unless they are negligent they cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage or injury suffered by my son/daughter during the course of their volunteering. I also understand that the library staff are not responsible for the safety or transport of my son/daughter to or from the library. Your Details
First Name: …………………………………
Tel No (Home): …………………………
Signed: …………………………………. (Parent / Guardian)
Note : Photographs may be taken that include your son/daughter. If you do not wish such pictures to be used for normal publicity purposes including publication online, please tick the box:
If you have any further questions please get in touch.
RISK ASSESSMENT OF SRC VOLUNTEERS UNDER THE AGE OF 18
To be completed by the host manager before the SRC commences.
It is a statutory requirement that volunteers under 18 are not given duties that:
Are beyond any physical or psychological limitations which they might have;
Expose them to any substance which is toxic or is classified as a carcinogen;
Expose them to ionising radiation;
Expose them to extreme heat, noise or vibration.
In addition, all other risks must be assessed and adequately controlled.
The significant risks the young person may face during the course of their placement have been assessed as:
Failure to identify hazards due to inexperience of workplace environment
Injury due to fall from height, objects falling from height, striking against inanimate objects, slips, trips and falls
Injury due to poor manual handling technique
Injury due to inappropriate behaviour of staff, student or member of the public
Prolonged or inappropriate IT use, exposure to inappropriate materials
Being inappropriately familiar with young children
The precautions in place to adequately control the risk or eliminate the hazards are:
The young person will be given an induction on the first day. This will comprise health and safety procedures, fire and evacuation procedures, first aid, manual handling training and how to report incidents.
They will be supervised at all times during the working day, training and instruction will be provided prior to beginning tasks/activities
The building and its equipment will be tidy and in good order, loose furniture e.g. kick steps not obstructing thoroughfares
Working height to be no more than 2 metres above permanent floor level
The young person will be removed from any abusive/confrontational situation
Computers and workstations are compliant with DSE regulations, breaks given regularly, filtering and the firewall are in place preventing access to inappropriate websites
The young person will not be left alone with young children at any time
The precautions given above are adequate and in place.
Signed by Host Manager;………………………………………Date…/…../…
I have received information regarding the risks and control measures involved in this placement.
Signed by parent/ guardian……………………………………Date…/…./….
Document 8 Interview questions for SRC volunteer
What do they know about the Library Service? What do they know about the Summer Reading Challenge? Depending on the answer - give them an overview
What experience do they have had working with children and young people?
How good is their children’s book knowledge? Can they talk about some recent children’s books they have read or know about? If they were asked for recommendations how would they reply? (we will give some training but it will be limited)
Ask if they have any questions
Document 8 Interview questions for SRC volunteer (What we are looking for- asking for examples)
Affinity with children
Active listening skills
Encouraging children in their reading
Giving out incentives
Ability to deal with challenging customers
Availability and commitment
Knowledge & interest in children’s books
At this point they are accepted or not
Document 9 Guidance notes for staff running SRC volunteer training sessions
Duration of training
1 hour max or as appropriate
Verbal instruction plus handouts, SRC materials and examples of books; with
The 28 volunteers initially committed to 18 hours each over the summer (a requirement on our volunteer placement description) = 504 hours in total, however, 11 did not fulfil their 18 hours, so we actually received 425 volunteer hours.
Also, amongst the committed volunteers, 11 did not come in for some of their pre-scheduled shifts, nor did they let us know. This totalled 33 hours that we were completely stood up
The ones that were too shy or reserved to make the children feel comfortable
The ones that seemed to be doing it only for something to put on their CV or university application
The ones that did not ask questions and consequently made mistakes
It proved difficult dealing with these volunteers, making them aware of the difficulties they had given us, when they missed shifts. I received a number of negative responses, represented in three different (documented) ways: (see next slide)
These issues were taken back to our children’s team and discussed in depth. We agreed that it is incredibly difficult to manage volunteers in the same way one would an employee, as it feels inappropriate to be anything other than grateful when someone is giving their time for free.
However , they are potentially getting a lot from this experience, and these things need to be stressed. We offer good references to those who honour their obligation and do a great job and in future we plan on implementing an online accreditation scheme made available by Wiltshire Youth Service for young people up to age 25. It is also a very fulfilling opportunity for many people whatever age.
There was a great deal of verbal feedback, almost on a daily basis, saying how brilliant the volunteers were with the children
One volunteer, a 16 year old boy was particularly good and many parents commented on how creative he was in drawing shy children out, and making them laugh. He was great with all of the children but there were also lots of comments from parents of boys who said that it was great for their sons to see an older boy so excited about books.
They felt that we had improved on how the challenge was managed this year and that it was predominately down to volunteers and their excellent service
Everyone agreed that it would have been impossible to cope if we had not had volunteer help
They felt that volunteers actually committed more time than was logged, because some of the volunteer hours were missed i.e. when volunteers stayed later than scheduled, came in as a library customer and saw that we needed help etc.
There were inconsistencies from the volunteers in their delivery and engagement
Overall, the volunteers made too many mistakes. Volunteers were given too many things to do.