by Ruth Leonard
Welcome back from your well-needed break and to a brand new year with your association – and this is the year to really lean into making AVM as relevant as we can be.
We know the last few months have been hard for everyone; both personally and professionally. Sometimes it has felt as though we’ve been fighting just to stay on top of it all; especially with what feels like reams of different initiatives all looking at volunteering and wondering how we can influence their progression.
Well, one way to do so is through working with others – such as through your professional body where we work together to learn, share, encourage and find a place at the table where conversations are happening.
One of my personal highlights from last year was being a panellist on a debate about volunteering and ideology which, ably chaired by Peter Beresford, gave the opportunity to discuss the place of volunteering within democracy and to highlight the false distinction made by some between user involvement and volunteering; emphasising the continuum.
Volunteer managers from structured, more traditional volunteer involving organisations have been learning fast from the informal community led responses to the pandemic, particularly from the mutual aid groups and trying to understand how to integrate this flexibility into our everyday practice.
With the increased language from decision makers around mobilising the untapped resource of an army of volunteers in a more transactional and top-down intervention, I would see AVM’s place as enabling the two seeming extremes to co-exist through an understanding of however people wish to give their time. There are already good practice principles to support this and people who understand how to do this well – volunteer managers.
The key things for this coming year need to be collaboration, communication and connection – this is what we need to achieve our ambitions of excellence we reflected on during International Volunteer Managers’ Day. 2022 needs to be the year when we move beyond the ordinary so we can help everyone who wants to volunteer do so in a way that meets their needs, where they are not just an afterthought or a statistic but their desire to give time is understood and meaningfully supported.
It will be a significant anniversary for AVM this year so look out for how you can engage and support with this, and in the meantime and as always please do get in touch.
- Read Ruth’s blog for IVM Day 2021: ‘What is excellence – pushing us beyond the ordinary’
- AVM members can re-watch the recording of Dr Jurgen Grotz sharing his thoughts on What is Excellence? for AVM‘s International Volunteer Managers Day (IVM Day) discussion. Login to watch.
Ruth Leonard is Chair of the UK’s Association of Volunteer Managers whose day job is Head of Volunteering Development at Macmillan Cancer Support.
For Ruth, volunteer management is about empowering and enabling people to bring creativity and ingenuity to a solution to make a difference in their community.
Her current role is to consider strategically where volunteering can add value to developing solutions and to ensure a supportive infrastructure so people who want give their time can have a quality experience.
Having been involved in volunteer management for nearly two decades she has significant experience at providing leadership on involving and engaging people and is committed to ensuring others are able to develop these skills.