Call for better volunteer management in the Criminal Justice System

Baroness Neuberger has published her report 'Volunteering Across the Criminal Justice System'. In it she says that 'volunteer management needs to be invested in if it is really to reap dividends, and the CJS, without doubt, needs more of this kind of investment' and 'a lack of investment in volunteer management inevitably results in volunteers having a bad experience. During the course of my research I have come across many cases of volunteers who have had a negative experience, as a direct result of poor investment in their management.'

Her recommendations:

  • A ministerial champion should be established for volunteering across the CJS
  • The agencies of the CJS on the ground should invest in volunteering and good volunteer management
  • All agencies of the CJS should have a strategy to engage the skills and time of ex-offenders, to deliver those services alongside professionals.
  • Employee volunteering should be rolled out throughout the CJS
  • The Office for Criminal Justice Reform should produce guidance and a toolkit for local criminal justice boards on how volunteering can help them meet their objectives.
  • Guidance should be produced for commissioners in the CJS on how to consider the involvement of volunteers when commissioning services.
  • Examine how more specific schemes for offenders (and ex-offenders) who want to volunteer could be extended across the country.
  • Unemployed people in contact with the Criminal Justice system should be signposted to volunteering opportunities as a stepping stone to entering the labour market.
  • Government departments and their partners should work to develop a sustainable funding model for victims' organisations, where volunteers are clearly providing a vita service that is not being provided by statutory services.
  • A coordinated cross-Government initiative to encourage employer support for voluntary roles.
  • Joint guidance, by the trade union movement and Volunteering England, on the use of volunteers within public services should be published.

The full report can be found at:

What a year it’s been

Yesterday AVM held its first AGM – more detailed reports on the content of the day to come. To mark the moment we released our first annual review. We attach it here and have an excerpt from it below:

We’re pleased to say that to date 126 volunteer managers have signed up as members and a further 510 people have registered on the website. It’s not just the numbers though; it’s where they are from. Our members are from all areas of the country, they come from local authorities, universities and volunteer centres, and from the smallest volunteer-led community organisations to the large national charities.

Support for the development of AVM came from many different sources. We had messages of support from Government (Ed Miliband MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office), from the volunteering sector (Justin Davis Smith, Volunteering England; Fiona Dawe, YouthNet; Gordon Lishman, Age Concern England; Fiona Reynolds, The National Trust; Graham Wynne, RSPB) and from across the globe (Martin J Cowling, Susan Ellis, Andy Fryar, Linda Graff, Steve McCurley)

Our Headline Achievements

. Led the campaign to clarify childcare expenses within the National Minimum Wage consultation
. Created the Volunteer Managers' wiki
. Advised the Office of the Third Sector on their guidance on CRB checks for volunteers
. Developed the most comprehensive collection of vacancies for volunteer managers
. Raised the profile of volunteer management

Membership Services

. The website –

Our website is our main tool of communication. The website offers:

  • more information about AVM and its directors
  • tools and publications for volunteer managers
  • general information about volunteering
  • forums to post queries
  • blogs to post information and thoughts
  • a video tutorial to get the most from the site

. Volunteer Managers’ Wiki

One of the greatest achievement has been our innovative Volunteer Managers’ wiki. Good practice in volunteer management is both fluid and evolving, and there is so much that can be learnt from each other in its application in the various fields we work in.
The wiki is the only place where that vibrant discussion is captured and the knowledge collated.

. Volunteer Manager vacancies

We have created the most comprehensive list of vacancies for volunteer managers.

. Members E-Newsletter

A bi-monthly newsletter goes out to members with news about what’s happening with AVM and other information from the volunteering world of interest to members.

Policy Development

A key feature of our work has been to raise awareness of the role volunteer management plays in developing safe, effective and sustainable volunteering.
We have responded to:

  • the Commission on the Future of Volunteering Consultation
  • the Office of the Third Sector’s response to the ‘Manifesto for Change’.
  • The Ministry of Justice’s Third Sector strategy.
  • DEFRA’s Third Sector strategy
  • NOMS’ Third Sector strategy. We have:
  1. sat on the review group for the Management of Volunteers National Occupational Standards
  2. been involved with ‘Scoping Volunteer Management Training in London’, a report prepared for the London Development Agency
  3. sat on the steering group for the Institute of Volunteering Research’s 'Management matters – a national survey of volunteer management capacity'
  • carried out our own survey of what volunteer managers want and their concerns

We have also:

  • We led the campaign to clarify childcare expenses within the National Minimum Wage consultation.
  • We advised the Office of the Third Sector on their guidance, published during Volunteers’ Week, CRB checks for volunteers.
  • We have sent a paper to the Office of the Third Sector regarding their proposals for training for volunteer managers.
  • We currently sit on the Commission on the Future of Volunteering Action Group on Skills and Empowerment for Volunteer Managers.
  • We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Volunteering England that recognises our joint commitment to develop volunteering in England.

International Work

An important part of our work has been working with our international colleagues as we recognise that the basic principles of volunteer management apply across the globe.

Various members of AVM had articles published in the second edition of ‘Volunteer Magnet’ – a global collection of good practice hints and tips.

We have been in close contact with the Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators, Andy Fryar (Australia), Martin J Cowling (Australia) and Susan Ellis (USA).

We have run workshops in Australia and Russia on volunteer management in this country.

With the sad demise of the Scottish Association of Volunteer Management, we will provide help and support to our Scottish colleagues on helping a new organisation develop.

Raising our Media Profile

Our launch was covered by Third Sector, People Management Today and Charity Times.

We have featured in Third Sector magazine on a number of issues; management of volunteers, training of volunteers, funding of volunteer managers, how to foster volunteering and the new initiative set up by Rockcorps.

Most recently we have featured in the Guardian on the need to increase capacity to support volunteers if organisations wish to recruit more volunteers.

Morgan Inquiry on young adult volunteering in the UK publishes report

The Morgan Inquiry has just published its report which looks at "the real reasons for more young people to volunteer, the barriers that prevent young people from doing so – and produced a series of practical recommendations for change".

We've highlighted some of the recommendations from the final report:

"It is widely acknowledged that children and young adults often relate better to, and are inspired by, young adults who are closer to their age. However, attracting and retaining young adults into voluntary positions where they have a leadership/mentoring role for young people is proving difficult to achieve."

"There has been a lot of speculation about the introduction of a new national bank holiday, with the notion that it could be dedicated to volunteering. However, from our evidence the introduction of a new bank holiday per se, would have very little impact on volunteering. Instead this Inquiry would like to see the introduction of a new scheme that would grant young adults an extra day a year to volunteer."

"There is also a particular issue with regards to the payment of expenses ‘up front’ to young adult volunteers. Again, DWP along with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) need to produce clearer guidelines on this practice, which is sometimes wrongly regarded as a means of payment and thus means that unemployed young adults are penalised with regards to their benefit claims."

"With volunteering so vital in the development of the transferable skills that employers are looking for nationwide, this Inquiry would like to see the development of a Government accredited volunteering skills award that would be universally recognised and valued by not only industry but also higher/further education establishments."

"Our final recommendation is that we would like to see a consolidation of the information that is available for young adults who wish to volunteer. At present information is confusing to both young adults and employers who are interested in getting involved in volunteering."

The full report can be downloaded here.

AVM response to the ‘Towards a Defra Third Sector Strategy’ Consultation document

The Association of Volunteer Managers is an independent body that aims to support, represent and champion people who manage volunteers in England regardless of field, discipline or sector. It was set up by and for people who manage and involve volunteers in the work of their organisations.The Association of Volunteer Managers works to:

  • campaign and speak out on issues that are key to people who manage volunteers;
  • facilitate and support effective peer-to-peer networking of those involved in volunteer management locally, regionally and nationally; and
  • develop information and good practice resources on volunteer management.

The Association of Volunteer Managers defines volunteer managers as: ‘People who, directly or indirectly, oversee, manage, co-ordinate or administer volunteers or volunteer programmes. Volunteer managers operate in all sectors and at all levels.’ We recognise that other terms can and are used to describe volunteer managers, that volunteer management may only be part of a volunteer manager’s role and that volunteer managers are both paid and unpaid.

The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) welcomes the recognition by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the role volunteers can play in supporting its work. However if Defra wishes to develop volunteering effectively and sustainably it must recognise the vital role volunteer managers play in delivering that and the need to ensure that volunteer managers are supported to carry out their work.

This support needs to encompass:

  • cross-organisational and cross-sectoral understanding, recognition and support of the role of the volunteer manager;
  • funding to ensure that all volunteer managers have the capacity and resources to effectively manage their volunteers and volunteering programmes;
  • funding and opportunities for volunteer managers to develop their skills and knowledge through training;
  • funding and opportunities for volunteer managers to develop their skills and knowledge through peer support, peer mentoring and networking; and
  • appropriate supervision, external if necessary, from someone who can advise and support in relation to volunteer management.

We would be happy to meet with Defra to discuss any aspect of our response or work further.

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:


• 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.


• 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.