Volunteers, volunteers! Who do they think they are? Some kind of superstar? – by Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive at Directory of Social Change

An insightful, thought provoking and challenging commentary on volunteering and volunteer management.

Lessons on Leadership and Learning from Sport – by Piers Martin MTPL MSc MBA FCIPD FRSA

Piers will bring to life over 25 years’ experience of leadership and learning, from his own perspective leading a range of performance sports, and from supporting leadership development in others.


You will need to select which workshop(s) you wish to attend when purchasing your conference tickets. Please note that Workshops 2 and 9 will only be taking place on Wednesday 18 October and Workshop 4 will only be taking place on Thursday 19 October. Workshop 5 has been cancelled.

Video recordings of all workshop sessions will also be made available to delegates after the conference.

Workshop 1 – Creating and embedding Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) culture change

Ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) is essential in today’s society, no matter the size of your organisation. Barriers and inequality are often deeply rooted in organisational culture and are difficult to overcome. So what can you do and where do you begin?

At Girlguiding, we started our journey of cultural change 3 years ago and whilst we still have a lot of work to do, we have also learnt a lot about how to engage our 80,000 volunteers with our ED&I vision. From understanding your starting point and defining your vision, to developing a plan and involving your volunteers, join us to explore how you can create and embed ED&I cultural change in your organisation.

By the end of this workshop you will have:

  • Gained an awareness of the ED&I journey
  • Explored the positive impact and challenges of ED&I culture change
  • Understood the key components to creating cultural change in voluntary organisations
  • Learnt effective tools and strategies for engaging your volunteers in culture change
  • Reflected on how you can change the ED&I culture in your own organisation

Workshop leaders
Josie Crossley – Lead Volunteer for Inclusion & Reach, Girlguiding
Aliza Nathoo – Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Girlguiding UK

Workshop 2 – Overview of volunteer management: role and practicalities

*This workshop is only running on Wednesday 18 October*
When it comes to involving volunteers successfully in an organisation, the volunteer manager is pivotal.  In addition to recruiting and training volunteers, the volunteer manager can influence and lead on how and where volunteering sits within an organisation; being the bridge between the different organisational stakeholders. 

Depending on the type of organisation, this will be between volunteers, services users and paid staff. This session will give you the opportunity to explore and understand the role of the volunteer manager.

This workshop will cover:

  • What we mean by volunteer management
  • The underlying principles of volunteer management 
  • Strategies to support your work

Workshop leader
Sue Shaw – Volunteer Coordinator, Voices in Exile 

Workshop 3 – Anyone can lead: utilising our strengths to positively influence others

In this interactive session, attendees will be introduced to the concept of positive leadership skills and behaviours, and explore what it means to tailor our approach to influence others, regardless of the roles we are in. Attendees will reflect on their own strengths (and their shadow sides), and how we can utilise these to lead and influence others with confidence. 

The session will explore the idea of job crafting – a tool that enables us to adapt our roles to better suit our strengths and to enjoy more fulfilling and energising work. Attendees will have the opportunity to share with and learn from others, and leave with some practical tools. 

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn tips for leading and influencing others with confidence, in a way that is authentic to you (recognising that leadership comes in different shapes and sizes)
  • Reflect on your individual strengths and how you can draw on these to influence others and have the greatest impact in your role
  • Learn more about the art of job crafting as a tool for adapting your work to align with your strengths, passions and experiences
  • Commit to at least one positive step you can take after the workshop

Workshop leader
Rob Baker – Founder and Chief Positive Deviant, Tailored Thinking

Workshop 4 – Embracing the power of micro-volunteering

*This workshop is only running on Thursday 19 October*
People would be more willing to volunteer if volunteering opportunities are more flexible to accommodate their busy lives. How can we make volunteering opportunities more flexible with micro and one off opportunities to enable more people to step up and support their local communities? 

This workshop will help you to:

  • Gain an understanding of the trends for micro- and one off volunteering 
  • Develop an understanding of how to approach the idea
  • Identify how can we use this as a way to challenge traditional models of volunteer management 
  • Hear about what’s worked well at West London NHS Trust

Workshop leader
Rashpal Saini – Head of Volunteering, West London NHS Trust

Workshop 6 – Improving the volunteer experience through volunteer involvement

This workshop will guide you through the journey Alzheimer’s Society has been on to involve their volunteers in improving the volunteer experience for all. In 2019, they launched their Volunteer Advisory Panel to ensure volunteers from across the organisation were involved in feeding back their thoughts and ideas around key strategic and volunteering items. This workshop looks at how the panel was set up, how the members have made a difference, and the lessons that have been learned along the wa

In this workshop, you will gain an understanding of:

  • the importance of involving and listening to volunteers
  • the steps taken to set up a Volunteer Advisory Panel
  • the importance of co-creating projects and activities with volunteers
  • how the experience feels from the volunteer perspective

Workshop leaders 
Louise Shevlane – Culture and Engagement Manager, Alzheimer’s Society
Sarah Penfound – Culture and Engagement Manager, Alzheimer’s Society
Heather Potter – Volunteer Advisory Panel member

Workshop 7 – Co-production with volunteers for learning and impact 

An opportunity to explore the concept of co-production in the context of volunteering programmes. Co-production is the process of working in partnership – those who provide services together with those who use or volunteer in them – to improve the service, support or programme. It’s about learning together what could and should change, and agreeing how that change can best occur. 

This workshop will cover:

  • what is co-production?
  • why would I do it?
  • who benefits and how?
  • where can I start?
  • how can I make it sustainable?
  • how might I scale my co-production work?

The workshop will use co-production techniques to demonstrate how you can begin incorporating them in your work quickly. You’ll leave with a starter-for-10 action plan you can work on tomorrow:

This workshop will enable you to:

  • understand the concept of co-production and its benefits
  • understand how co-production can function in a volunteering programme 
  • consider how you might introduce or build co-production into your work
  • consider how to make coproduction sustainable over time 
  • clarify early steps for a co-production action plan

Workshop leader
Beck Dabscheck – Freelancer and Associate at PraxisCollab

Workshop 8 – Nurturing others to be empowered, skilled and motivated in volunteer management 

Are there people in your organisation taking on volunteer support or management who are reluctant, unconfident or lacking in relevant skills? Is there confusion about what volunteer management is within your organisation and what it requires? Are there examples of best practice and lessons learnt that are not being shared effectively? Do you have limited capacity and are unclear on how to support and inspire others as volunteer leaders?

This interactive workshop will look at how you can utilise blended learning, effective support structures and creating a rich community of best practice to nurture high quality volunteer management within an organisation. We’ll explore how we’ve tackled this at English Heritage, the challenges we faced, our key takeaways and on-going plans for future development.  They’ll be time to explore your own examples of supporting effective volunteer management, ask questions and an invitation to set yourself a development goal.

By the end of this workshop you will have:

  • Explored a comprehensive approach to developing and supporting others in volunteer management 
  • A collective understanding on what those working with volunteers need and the challenges faced
  • Clarity on a scalable approach to supporting others if your resource, budget or expertise is limited
  • Discussed with others their experiences of supporting others, challenges faced and solutions found
  • Had a chance to ask questions and get answers from those with extensive volunteer management experience 

Workshop leaders
Mirabai Ruskin – National Volunteering and Participation Adviser, English Heritage 
Sophie Robertson – Territory Volunteer Manager, English Heritage 

Workshop 9 – Vision for Volunteering: An Introduction

*This workshop is only running on Wednesday 18 October*
This session will provide an introduction to the Vision for Volunteering, a ten-year collaborative project designed to bring about a better future for volunteering. There will be an interactive discussion around the five themes of the Vision (awareness and appreciation, power, equity and inclusion, collaboration and experimentation) as well as some suggestions for practical things you can do in your own organisation.

This session will help you understand what the Vision for Volunteering is, as well as giving you some space for reflection and planning about how you can implement the Vision for Volunteering in your local context.

By the end of the workshop, you will have a full understanding of what the Vision for Volunteering is and what it’s trying to achieve, as well as some ideas for implementing the Vision for Volunteering locally. It will help you think practically about how volunteering needs to change over the short-, medium- and long-term and will provide a space for you to network with other like-minded people across the sector to tackle the same challenges together.

Workshop leaders
Laura Lowther – Vision for Volunteering
Sarah Tranter – Vision for Volunteering

Workshop 10 – Making volunteering opportunities age-friendly and inclusive

People who help out in their community – from everyday acts of neighbourliness to more formal volunteering roles – tend to be happier and develop a better quality and quantity of relationship and sense of purpose in their lives. Explore how organisations and community groups can ensure that more people can benefit from taking part in volunteering opportunities in ways that work for them.

During the workshop you’ll hear about the joint review into community contributions carried out by the Centre for Ageing Better and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and how that created five principles for engaging people and creating age-friendly and inclusive opportunities. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore how the principles might support your work and share with colleagues ways of working to widen and sustain involvement of people in later life post-pandemic.

In this workshop you will:

  • Gain an understanding of five key principles of age-friendly and inclusive volunteering
  • Develop an understanding of how these principles might be useful to your work
  • Build knowledge of some of the latest trends in volunteering by older people

Workshop leader
Rachel Monaghan – Programme Manager, Centre for Ageing Better


Wednesday – Volunteering in the UK: shared challenges and opportunities across the four nations

We’ll hear about the Vision for Volunteering in countries across the UK and then discuss the similarities/differences and what this means for managers of volunteers in those countries. 

Confirmed panel
Denise Hayward – Chief Executive, Volunteer Now
Ruth Marks – Chief Executive, WCVA
Alan Stevenson – Chief Executive, Volunteer Scotland
Sarah Vibert – Chief Executive Officer, NCVO
Facilitated by Ruth Leonard – Chair, AVM

Thursday – Artificial Intelligence & Volunteering Management – Opportunity or Threat?

Is the rapid emergency of Artificial Intelligence (AI) something that will enhance volunteering and volunteer leadership/management? What opportunities and threats does it present to volunteering and for those who volunteer?

Confirmed panel
Dr Manish Patel – Co-founder & CEO, Jiva
Dr Rolf Herbert – Head of Technology and Product, TeamKinetic
Facilitated by Rachael Bayley – Director of Membership Services, Girlguiding


Our networking sessions will enable you to chat with other leaders of volunteering from across a variety of sectors and organisations.

Meet the Sponsor sessions

An opportunity to attend presentations from our Conference sponsors on a range of topics, as well as ask them any questions. Each presentation will be repeated at three separate drop-in sessions on both days.

TeamKinetic – Digital Volunteer Management

Better Impact – demonstration of Better Impact’s software

Assemble – Ask Us Anything session

Employee Volunteering – Measuring Volunteer Impact