VMM webinar – Raising Our Profile

Here’s a link to a great webinar run by the VM Movement called “Raising our Profile, Having a Say – Responding to the ask about Volunteer Management”. The webinar was led by Sue Jones and Chris Huffee.

This webinar is for anyone who works with volunteers and who is interested in where the profession is heading and where Volunteer Management fits within the proposed changes to our national volunteering infrastructure.

Featuring contributions from John Ramsey, Head of Volunteering at Age UK and founder of the Association of Volunteer Managers. And Emma Corrigan, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Shelter and Volunteer Management Champion.

Politics Show Covers Volunteering

It was interesting to see the BBC's 'Politics Show' covering volunteering yesterday. The main programme featured a report by Baroness Julia Neuberger talking about the benefits of volunteering. It spelt out a lot of what was contained in the report by the Commission on the Future of Volunteering chaired by the Baroness. You can read a written article on this video report here.

As part of the region section of the Politics Show a number of different video reports were broadcast in different areas. Including the following:

Any volunteers?

The first part of the discussion looking at the role of volunteers in the public services.

Volunteering for what?

The second discussion looking at the role of volunteers in the public services.

When volunteers quit

To show how reliant our public services are on volunteers, we look at what would happen if they all suddenly quit.

Charity driver explains the cost issue

Charities have been experiencing a shortage of volunteer drivers because of the rising cost of motoring.

Brassed-off volunteers

Small charity funding problems

Self sustaining charity

West Midlands: Louise Rutherford, volunteer coordinator, and Rob Jackson, Volunteering England

Stressing volunteering

I came across this link the other day that introduced me to a new concept – "over volunteering" by stress management coach G. Gaynor McTigue.

Besides selling a book- it did touch on that (self) management issue that we all have which is knowing your limits. Volunteering like nothing else tests your own sense of what your limits are. If you set the bar too high- you don't volunteer; set the bar too low, and you volunteer ineffectively.

Then I ran into this video by John Tesh Radio Show bigging up the health benefits of volunteering.

It cast my mind back to that ongoing controversy that spread from OzVPMs and then on to UKVPMs about volunteering being bad for your health. Remember that?

It started with a piece of research by A M Ziersch and F E Baum from the Department of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia which said:

"Very few interviewees made a direct link between CSGs (civil society groups) and positive individual health outcomes, though some positive community level outcomes were noted. More consistent were reports of the detrimental effects of CSG involvement on mental and physical health."

That generated a lot of discussion in 2005. There were other reports in the UK press at the time putting the contrary position, i.e. that volunteering is good for your health. "Volunteering 'boosts community happiness" was one in the Guardian:

Professor Paul Whiteley, from the University of Essex in Colchester, whose team produced the findings, said: "The research has revealed an interesting link between helping others and enjoying a good quality of life.

"It seems that when we focus on the needs of others, we may also reap benefits ourselves. It means that voluntary activity in the community is associated with better health, lower crime, improved educational performance and greater life satisfaction."

Another more recent example has been the CSV Capital Volunteering project that showed a link between volunteering and health improvement. A volunteer in the project, Pam Hutton found she could help others who had been through similar mental health problems.

"I thought I was worthless, but volunteering gave me back some self-esteem and helped me to stop feeling so isolated," said Ms Hutton, who believes volunteering and befriending schemes were a catalyst for improving her life.

She is a great exemplar of what seems to be a growing link between volunteering and the recovery of people who have experienced mental health problems.

The Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, is carrying out research in this area and published preliminary findings today that suggest a "strong link" between volunteering and recovery.

It's worth flagging up the Institute of Volunteering Research's work in this area. In 2003 it conducted a survey that showed that volunteers agreed that volunteering had done much to improve their mental health. Specifically, it had given structure, direction and meaning to their life, widened their social networks, improved their vocational and interpersonal skills and helped them to gain access to employment, education and training.

I am quoting the part of the summary particularly useful for volunteer managers:

Who usually supervises you?
A majority of respondents were supervised by a paid staff member, and a much smaller proportion by a volunteer co-ordinator or manager (paid or unpaid).

What types of support and training do you receive?
Nearly three-quarters of respondents had their out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed. Around half were given ongoing training and had regular meetings with their supervisors. Other forms of support included induction training, pre-volunteering training, peer volunteer support and mentoring or 'buddying' schemes.

What types of support do you find most useful?
Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses and training (especially pre-volunteering training and a robust induction process) were cited as the most valuable forms of support.

How effective is the support you receive?
Nearly all the respondents said that they always (or generally) know what is expected of them. A half said that they always get the support they need, and nearly a third said that they often get the support they need.

How do you define good support?
'Supervisors who are knowledgeable, conscientious, understanding, honest, appreciative and respectful', 'someone on hand to answer questions or listen to concerns' and 'the feeling that you are a member of a team' were cited as the three most important elements of good support.

These conclusions are still just as poignant now as they were then. To your very good health as a volunteer manager 🙂

Volunteering videos

The world of the volunteering video is a niche one. How many of you spend your evenings in front of the telly watching, say, the Community Channel for example?

Videos exploring the value of volunteering perhaps won't ever be part of the ratings war. However, there is a lot of great stuff out there, which, thanks to the internet is more and more easily accessible.

Take the BBC's Video Nation. It's a massive project bringing together portraits of people around the UK. It includes lots of great clips of people talking about the importance of volunteering to them.

The Community Channel doesn't actually seem to have much on about volunteering online on its own website or on YouTube.

There's also loads of others here like a video about young people's attitudes to volunteering. promoting volunteering in general or telling the experiences of individual volunteers. Here's a video portrait (which seems to be the most popular format for covering volunteering) of UK based Control Arms volunteer Tasneem Clarke, shows us what working on a campaign for a global Arms Trade Treaty can entail.

There are other interesting videos featuring volunteers and the subject of volunteering here.