National programme enables support to local VIOs

A national programme enables Volunteer Centre Camden (VCC) to try out an innovative way of supporting resource strapped volunteer involving organisations and at the same time, helps increase the employability of individual volunteers.

As part of the Volunteering for Stronger Communities Programme, managed by NCVO and funded by the BIG Lottery Fund, VCC has been recruiting, training and placing voluntary volunteer coordinators. The volunteers have all been unemployed for at least six months.

After training, the voluntary volunteer coordinators were paired up with local organisations, to support them to recruit and manage their own volunteers. A recent evaluation report gives examples of how this built the capacity of these organisations to involve more volunteers, or to improve their volunteer management practice.

In relation to the evaluation, project manager Diana Young said:

"It was the first time I’ve had an external evaluation undertaken for a project I manage and I was full of trepidation as it would be drawing on the experiences of a variety of organisations and volunteer co-ordinators. The reflection required to pass information to the consultant was unexpectedly helpful to me. Seeing the year as a whole, with the learning and challenges faced in one fell swoop, was illuminating and helped me realise what had been achieved."

Diana describes some key points she’s learnt from delivering the project:

  • That buy-in from managers and paid staff from the outset is essential
  • A tightly written volunteer role outline before recruiting is needed. Diana commented how "one organisation expected the co-ordinator to do fundraising and manage strategic level relationships as well!"
  • As all the volunteer co-ordinators have to be unemployed and looking for work, this brings an inherent risk around retention. Several volunteers left the project before the end of the 6 months due to having found paid work.

Diana is now working on how to gather evidence from participating organisations about the amount of time needed to prepare for, manage and support the volunteer co-ordinators, and the benefits to the organisations and their beneficiaries.

For more details about the Volunteering for Stronger Communities Project contact the Project Manager, Caroline Cook - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to editors

The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 46% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £26 billion has now been raised and more than 330,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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