Welcoming the future of volunteering

The Association of Volunteer Managers welcomes the report from the Commission on the Future of Volunteering. We're pleased to see a number of recommendations that are intended to increase both the numbers of opportunities for volunteers and the numbers of people volunteering. For a range of reasons including increased regulation and inspection, as well as the diversification of the volunteer-force, the management of volunteers is becoming increasingly complex.

The commission recognises that in order to maximise the benefit of volunteering for individual volunteers, as well as for volunteer-involving organisations, there needs to be an investment in the development of an infrastructure that includes enhancing the training and support of managers of volunteers.

The AVM survey published on November 1st 2007 highlighted that managers of volunteers want training and support in order to develop their efficacy and impact. We note that this is supported by the commission who recommend action without delay. AVM will be pleased to work with the commission to develop local, regional and national infrastructures, as well as a range of training opportunities for managers of volunteers.

AVM will continue to provide peer support to managers of volunteers.

 


Here below we republish the report's summary. You can download the full report here as a PDF.

Commission on the Future of Volunteering – Manifesto for Change

Summary of key recommendations:

For government:

• An Access to Volunteering Fund, with initial investment of £1m from central government, should be piloted to support under-represented groups into volunteering.

• As a matter of urgency, the government and key volunteering agencies must work together to remove unnecessary and disproportionate barriers to volunteering.

• A Volunteering Matched Fund of £5m per year, set up by central government, should be provided for partnerships between local infrastructure organisations and local authorities to support strategic development.

• Government must lead by example and promote volunteering by its own employees, implementing appropriate targets for the level of volunteering by public servants.

• Government should actively promote and support a coherent approach to accreditation and training for volunteers and ensure national standards for volunteer training are established.

• One cabinet minister should take responsibility for volunteering, with a brief across all departments. One permanent secretary should hold responsibility for volunteering by government employees, and for volunteering as a whole.

• A parliamentary select committee should be given responsibility for volunteering and community championing. This should be recognised as a central government responsibility and held separately from the Office of the Third Sector.

• All government departments and agencies should make a commitment to the Compact and Volunteering Code of Practice and monitor their implementation.

For the voluntary sector:

• Volunteer-involving organisations must undertake a critical review of their ways of working to identify new and creative opportunities for volunteering which ensure they play to individuals’ strengths and passions.

• A high-level sustained effort is required to raise the profile of volunteering. Existing promotional events such as Volunteers’ Week and Make a Difference Day could be hugely enhanced. All volunteer-involving organisations should get involved with these events.

• The public and voluntary sectors have shown little leadership with regard to employee-supported volunteering schemes – they should be leading by example and develop opportunities for their own staff urgently.

• Individual and group volunteering champions should be introduced at local level to promote the value of volunteering to individuals and organisations.

For employers

• There are real opportunities for extending employer-supported volunteering. Employers should ensure they have schemes in place to support employees in volunteering. Schemes, such as flexible working hours and time-off for volunteering, need to be set up to allow employees the opportunity to volunteer.

Issues to be jointly addressed:

Recognition

• More needs to be done to reward and recognise volunteers. New mechanisms should be developed for this which are attuned to the diversity of factors that motivate volunteers.

• Time spent in formal volunteering should be acknowledged as a legitimate and important part of an individual’s CV and career development path.

Training

• Government, volunteer-involving organisations and the volunteer infrastructure should endorse an explicit commitment to train (and be trained) up to an agreed basic level.

• Serious attention needs to be given to meeting the training and support needs of managers in volunteer-involving organisations. The volunteering infrastructure, in cooperation with government, should act without delay for example by issuing new guidance for training managers.

• Government, volunteer-involving organisations and the volunteering infrastructure should work with further education colleges, adult and community education centres and higher education institutions should work closely to develop training which is valued, accredited and recognised within and beyond the context of volunteering.

• Public sector staff, including NHS, civil servants and local government officers, should be trained to understand the role of volunteers and acquire skills in working with volunteers.

• Training for public sector staff should be delivered to improve their understanding of the necessity for organisations to be funded to cover the full costs of volunteer involvement when they submit proposals to deliver services which include the engagement of volunteers.

The Role of Regulators

• Regulatory bodies, such as the Healthcare Commission and Ofsted, should include an assessment of how organisations involve, support and manage volunteers in their regular inspections.

 

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