Building effective and sustainable foundations to develop the full value of volunteering

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The presentation was a workshop at Evolve 2014: the annual event for the voluntary sector in London on Monday 16 June 2014.

The workshop facilitators were Leesa Herbert (Head of Infrastructure Development at the NCVO), John Carlin (Volunteer Centre Support Manager at the NCVO) and Michael Scott (liv Manager England).

Find out more about the Evolve Conference from NCVO: http://www.ncvo.org.uk/training-and-events/evolve-conference

Find out more about the work NCVO does around funding: http://www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-support/funding

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Building effective and sustainable foundations to develop the full value of volunteering

  1. 1. AM3: Building effective and sustainable foundations to develop the full value of volunteering Hayley Watts, Director, Camden Volunteer Centre Tracy Whittle, Project Manager, Volunteering in Care Homes, NCVO Wendy Walker, Volunteering Project Coordinator, Wolverhampton Volunteers (WVSC) Alison Marino, Sector Support Manager, Community Works Chris Reed, Head of Volunteering, St John Ambulance Natasha Mort, Supporting Organisations Manager, Volunteer Centre Leeds (VAL) Workshops
  2. 2. Evolve 2014 Workshop AM3: Building effective and sustainable foundations to develop the full value of volunteering Name Organisation Topic/focus Contact Leesa Herbert Head of Infrastructure Development, NCVO Facilitator leesa.herbert@ncvo.org.uk John Carlin Volunteer Centre Support Manager, NCVO Facilitator john.carlin@ncvo.org.uk Michael Scott IiV Manager (England) Facilitator michael.scott@ncvo.org.uk
  3. 3. Tracy Whittle Project Manager, Volunteering in Care Homes, NCVO Volunteering in Care Homes tracy.whittle@ncvo.org.uk Natasha Mort Supporting Organisations Manager,Volunteer Centre Leeds (VAL) Volunteer Centre set up in Leeds prison natasha.mort@val.org.uk Wendy Walker Volunteering Project Coordinator, Wolverhampton Volunteers (WVSC Developing role with local organisations developing good practice. WWalker@wolverhamptonvsc.org.uk Haley Watts Director, Camden Volunteer Centre Volunteer volunteer- managers in VCOs/Volunteering & Employability Hayley@volunteercentrecamden.org .uk Chris Reed Head of Volunteering, St John Ambulance Opportunities and challenges St Johns Ambulance face delivering a national service with volunteers Chris.Reed@sja.org.uk Alison Marino Sector Support Manager, Community Works, Brighton and Hove Volunteering for younger people alison@bhcommunityworks.org.uk
  4. 4. Chris Reed Head of Volunteering, St John Ambulance Opportunities and challenges St Johns Ambulance face delivering a national service with volunteers Chris.Reed@sja.org.uk When two worlds collide: Mixing flexibility with regulation in the voluntary sector http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2014/06/04/when-two-worlds-collide-mixing-flexibility-with- regulation-in-the-voluntary-sector/
  5. 5. Wendy Walker Volunteering Project Coordinator, Wolverhampton Volunteers (WVSC Developing role with local organisations developing good practice. WWalker@wolverhamptonvsc.org.u k Our original volunteering project was set up when Wolverhampton’s independent volunteer centre closed in 2008. At Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council (WVSC) we had been carrying out research into how our sector could be part of improving the lives of residents, many of whom have few or no qualifications or work experience. We thought volunteering could help the large number of unemployed people living in our city, using it as the link between training and work, giving good quality work experience to those at some distance from the work market. Very early on in the life of our volunteer centre we undertook VCQA. At that time through Volunteering England we were asked to do this as a Black Country application, covering 4 volunteer centres. Having the assurance that our procedures and activities were of the standard necessary to achieve VCQA was a real boost to our confidence that we were on the right track. We decided to take on a training advisor as part of our team because our aim was to make volunteering a pathway to employment. This became a very important part of our service; we discovered that many adults thought they would have to go to college if they wanted to upskill and they were scared of that. Volunteering meant that they could do most if not all of their coursework where they volunteered and felt comfortable, so more were inclined to have a go. Also the VIOs benefitted as the volunteers stayed in post for longer and were better qualified to fulfil the roles.
  6. 6. We knew how important this role had become when the training providers themselves started calling us to ask about what courses our volunteers were looking for so that they could cater to their needs. Having a good strong Volunteering Involving Organisations Network is an important basis for our Volunteer Centre. Something we have done almost from the start is hold regular VIO meetings where the organisations discuss what they are doing and get support and advice from their peers and from us at the VC. We go to a different organisation every meeting and the hosts give a presentation on their project to share what they are doing with the group. We rarely have less than 15 organisations turn up and they always say how much they value the meetings. It enables them to make contact with similar groups and exchange information and help and support each other. We learn about where any gaps in knowledge are and we can arrange to provide information, training and guidance. All of this supports the development of good practice and is shared between the group. It is a relaxed atmosphere and no one feels they can’t ask for help and advice. When we recently surveyed our VIO’s this was consistently one of the most valued elements of what we do as a VC.
  7. 7. As there is no affordable or completely suitable volunteer management training available for our organisations we are using our expertise to construct some workshops we can deliver ourselves to support the development of good practice as required by our organisations. We have also been approached by a local housing association that wants us to work with them to develop volunteering for their Care and Support strategy for which we are negotiating payment. We are hoping that more of the support initiatives we can develop alongside our VIOs can be sold to other sectors to financially support our service. Something we have always done is ask prospective volunteers, wherever possible, to come and have an advice and guidance session with an advisor about what they are looking for and why so that we can give suitable support and information. Most people do not realise the breadth of volunteering opportunities available, and which opportunities give the best outcome depending on their requirements. At a recent VIO meeting everyone agreed that those volunteers who come through our centre tend to start volunteering whereas those who come through the websites do not; this shows that our personalised way of working ultimately saves our organisations time and ensures that the volunteers get straight to the opportunities that suit them best.
  8. 8. We have been funded through our city council since we started, supplemented for some of the time by Working Neighbourhoods funding. We are currently part funded by the council and the shortfall in funding is being covered by the VSC but we are looking to cover the shortfall if possible. Due to the economic problems at our city council we have seen our funding cut and many 3rd sector groups and charities having hard cuts or total cuts in funding. This has meant that we are having to change the way we work. We had to bid for our funding; this entailed a written submission and a presentation. Having VCQA, and being the only organisation locally with it, very much enhanced our bid and was the subject of the first sentence of our proposal. Having this, we felt, really gave us an edge throughout the process as we, and those judging us knew, we had all the correct structures and procedures in place to support volunteers and organisations. We based our proposal on the City Strategy themes of Empowering People, Encouraging Enterprise and Business and Re-invigorating the City with 4 key strands; an outreach programme working with diverse organisations to host volunteer advocates that we would recruit, train and support to encourage local people to get involved.
  9. 9. Communications using social media to amplify volunteering and local community action opportunities, Strategic engagement and building infrastructure – working sub-regionally to benchmark and share best practice, work to keep volunteering on the policy agenda and work locally with partners to develop our infrastructure and our core city centre operations running the centre. We believe the best way to continue being considered an important member of our sector is by being flexible and open to new ways of working and importantly working in partnership with other groups that complement our service and where we can add value. Because we have a training advisor we are able to be part of our local Community Learning Trust which is working to co-ordinate learning across the city and bid for funding to facilitate this. (The core aim of the policy is to ensure volunteers in placement have access to, and are made aware of, community learning opportunities to enhance the volunteering experience, increase employability and improve community cohesion as well as individual confidence and self esteem). The CLT works across all training provision in the city and will be looking to apply for funding to support the work.
  10. 10. We are also looking to do joint bids/working with for example our local Children’s Centres as we have identified that we have fewer volunteers in the older age groups and want to both find out why and engage with them with some quality volunteering opportunities. So we are looking currently at parent mentors for young parents coming through the children’s centres and will try and identify some funding we can make a joint bid for. We are also currently at the beginning of developing a joint arrangement with Wolverhampton University where we have an in principle agreement that we will make opportunities held by each organisation available to all volunteers and utilise the same paperwork and systems to ensure a free flow of volunteers across the two organisations. At the University volunteering is now considered as a part of their employability pathway, with students being advised to volunteer all the way through their courses to enhance their chances of employment at the end of their degree courses. We also hope to do some publicity around the Investing in Volunteers quality mark for organisations this year. Wolverhampton volunteers took part in a pilot programme for NCVO as they wanted to split the advisor/assessor role and also run the programme with some very small groups to see the outcome.
  11. 11. It was a very successful pilot and one of the organisations which took part was actually starting from scratch and completed the whole process in less than 5 months. From it we were able to see and report on the value of even the smallest organisation having access to a quality mark, with one of the groups commenting that it had created more stable structures for their organisation, got them organised and motivated and that the support given to achieve the award was much better than having a Business Planning Advisor! We are currently working closely with our in-house Community Development Team to identify possible funding for organisations wanting to take up this quality mark. Up to 3 lessons learned or advice you have learnt and would give to others doing what you are doing It had always been an important part of our service that we could offer talks and workshops about anything to do with volunteering and cost was never considered. This is no longer the case so we had to take a deep breath and counter requests for presentations and workshops with a request for a contribution to our funding. Not everyone can pay and some simply hadn’t calculated that they would need to pay, but we’ve had some payments and we feel that by asking we are making people aware of our need for financial contributions and hope that in the future we will automatically be offered payment for our services.
  12. 12. On the other hand, you have to not be afraid to ask for things for free. We found for example that training providers are often able to give us some free places on otherwise paid for courses when they had them available – we just had to ask................ .............. thank you............
  13. 13. Alison Marino Sector Support Manager, Community Works, Brighton and Hove Volunteering for younger people INTRODUCTION Good Morning everyone. My name is Alison Marino and I am Sector Support Manager with Brighton & Hove Community Works. I’m here to share with you our experience of Younger People volunteering in Brighton & Hove. I’m going to start with a little context and background as it has relevance to our story. So, Community Works is the infrastructure provider to the voluntary and community sector in Brighton & Hove. We re-launched into our current structure as a result of the 2- year Transforming Local Infrastructure programme. This programme brought together a number of projects and functions under one roof including our local CVS organisation, the Volunteer Centre, business community activity, performance development and training. During this change process I was in the role of Volunteer Centre Manager. When I started in this role in 2007, as per most places, B&H had it’s own YP volunteering infrastructure support first known as Brighton & Hove Millennium Volunteers and then as Brighton & Hove Volunteers. This project delivered many successes. However in 2009, the host organisation for BHV folded, taking any resources with them. There were several attempts to rescue the BHV element of this closure but these were unsuccessful. The result has been a ‘vacuum’ around the YP volunteering offer in the City.
  14. 14. So our story has been one of trying to ‘fill this gap’ and in a time of shrinking resources and against a landscape of considerable change which is both challenging and opportunistic. HOW HAVE WE FILLED THAT GAP? - Briefly describe the service, way of working that you have developed Well, I can’t promise that we have filled the gap but several key things have happened that have started to lay foundations for a more robust future around YP volunteering. The Volunteering Strategy Running concurrently and up to the closure of BHV the Volunteer Centre was leading on the development of the first City Volunteering Strategy. This work identified a need to develop YP volunteering in the City. In the absence of significant local intelligence it was difficult to get to the detail of how or what but the need was clearly identified and was flagged by local officers who scrutinised and signed off the volunteering strategy. This is significant in what has happened since as the City Volunteering Strategy has been our go to manifesto in maintaining the profile for volunteering and has anchored organisations locally around priority issues. Younger People volunteering has been identified as a high priority need every year of the strategy. The Strategy also identified broader infrastructure changes around volunteering in the City which were needed – joining up services more effectively, working collaboratively, knowing partners better, removing duplication etc.
  15. 15. Transforming Local Infrastructure The launch of the Transforming Local Infrastructure programme at the end of 2011 was therefore extremely timey and provided a perfect vehicle for the Volunteer Centre to realise some of these strategic aspirations. Crucially, it provided the first bit of resource to develop a YP volunteering offer. Whilst TLI funding was principally to support the activities of change, 25% was permissible around service delivery. Our TLI partnership decided upon some service development areas that could be explored, thinking principally about designing work that would seque into the new organisation and could be sustained with significantly pared down staff capacity. The Volunteer Centre used this service development money to look at the YP volunteering offer. Recruiting a Younger Person Volunteering Development Officer The monies weren’t large but with these funds we recruited a YPVD Officer at 11 hours a week and the work was shaped extremely carefully not only to fit the current capacity but future capacity and we had 4 overall aims for the project: We wanted Younger People to know what volunteering options were available to them locally
  16. 16. We wanted information on volunteering across local YP agencies to be well-coordinated We wanted to increase understanding amongst orgs and decision-makers as to the benefits of YP engaging in volunteering Finally, we wanted the future for younger people volunteering to be considered and planned for in the new infrastructure support arrangements and its partnership arrangements with others What followed was then a series of activity that included: Mapping the local area – what agencies worked with YP volunteers, where were the opportunities, where were the possibilities Networking and relationship building – rebuilding relationships that had been un- nurtured or not developed. This included meeting with key school representatives, other YP schemes such as DofE, National Citizenship Ship, local Youth Services providers and student based volunteering programmes, as well as local YP commissioner, and Councillor Activity to raise the profile of Younger People Volunteering – this included Volunteers’ Week where we engaged local press and radio. Consultation with YP to develop options for how we co-ordinate the YP offer – deciding upon an online platform, we then had to address our internal VC processes around populating it with opps, resources and case studies
  17. 17. We also then marketed our developments – making particular use of social media and using volunteers’ week to launch our online site. Integration of this work into the emerging organisational work plan – and it was my role to influence this work as a priority amongst partners Develop positive messages for YP engagement – this was difficult to get to in the time Lastly we looked at a funding plan to resource this work ongoing – “Pathways” So did we achieve? The launch of our YP website last year has provided the first go to place in the City that hosts YP opportunities and YP volunteer management resources for organisations in one place; The site pulls in opps that we tag on our main platform ivo.org 50 contact forms across the year. 30 to 60 visitors on page per day. Last month 500 unique visitors. Under16s – 4; 16 to 17s – 38; 18 – 25 - 97 We weren’t able to retain the YP worker but we did secure increased VC co-ordinator time to the Centre (one full-time post) and the development of YP volunteering is clearly within their work plan. Over the next year we are going to be working with a cluster of organisations around developing new YP opportunities; particularly
  18. 18. focusing on organisations that are not ‘youth’ services and ensuring that that learning is cascaded through an appropriate peer support model We have an increased profile amongst City YP partners – we are now approached by the local youth collective if there is an opportunity around volunteering. We are developing our own practice. It has been an aspiration of VC Brighton & Hove over the last 5 years to expand our volunteering programme and model our messages. We will therefore be developing a role for a younger person. The Volunteering Strategy has held this dialogue and kept it alive and our local strategic partnership has adopted the Strategy as one of its flagship projects and is supporting its refresh over this year with a focus on younger people. Lastly, we raised the profile for the significant contribution of YP volunteering. 43% of our enquiries come from under 25s. 43,000 hours per year. Challenges and Lessons The size of the sector – recruit someone who is able to navigate the sector, hone your workplan carefully and realistically, recognise what opportunities could disproportionatey drain resources with little outcome. (e.g. Princes’ Trust prog, NCS, schools) Differing agendas and perspectives – YP as service users of peer-led groups, work placement agenda and so forth (develop your position early on and stick to it)
  19. 19. Pathways – these are critical. You can only co-ordinate opportunities if they are there to promote and there is often capacity-building with organisations required in order to achieve this. The reality is that there are very few opps for under 16s. At the other end of the pathway, orgs often don’t know how to support their YP in accessing volunteering. Funding – people want to fund issues not generic support, some funds too large for us to engage with, whilst commissioners sympathetic there is not money there, why would be they fund our work if they consider their peer YP service users to be volunteers? Stay part of the conversation if you can. So we have plenty left to do: Keep influencing around pathways and opportunity development Develop/disseminate messages on the +impact of YP engagement Support orgs that require YP placements in their messaging around YP and placements Change, innovation and working differently Look to the longer-term building blocks that will really support something sustainable. Who knew that TLI would deliver that? Recognise your limits: if it’s one of coordination then stick to that and defer to expert partners on YP deliver where possible. Only in partnership can you take YP volunteering out in to a more generic environment.

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