Spare Time or Spare Rooms

A sprawling monologue in which lots of us do a little bit.

Yesterday I was really anxious and preocupied with work.  I do insist on having ideas (this time it’s interactive online training) and I find following them through quite anxiety-inducing.

Starters-and-Info-768x768Then I got to the Stories and Supper project, where we are planning a supper club that challenges some media narratives on refugees and also supports the refugees themselves. Continue reading “Spare Time or Spare Rooms”


A Freebie for Volunteer Coordinators…

Voluntary Sector Training

Want to try out some live interactive learning on Monday in your lunch hour?

My online interactive classroom opens its doors in a few weeks…! Eeeek! With a course of eight workshops supporting Volunteer Cordinators and Managers.  I’m delivering in partnership with Voluntary Sector Training

If you’re managing, coordinating, involving volunteers – maybe you’re doing it as a volunteer yourself – you won’t have much time for training.  My courses are one hour at a time, and you can join us from anywhere.   Where will you join us from?!

Questions?  These FAQs might help

The Taster Session:  Monday 13th March 1pm

Interested?  Register your interest here…

After the session, I’ll be asking everyone to share the details of the course with volunteer coordinators and managers they know.

If you’re excited about this and interested in the topics we’ll be covering, please book on the course!

I’ve researched many different ways of delivering online, and the most cost effective and easy-to manage seems to be Cisco Webex.  If you’re into bits of software, more info about that here.

…And this guy has actually made a song about good training online – so i’ve obviously been learning from him!

Libby and Maia: Refugee Help with a knock-on effect.

This post appears in Can I Bring Ivy: a blog about volunteering with kids – February 2017.

We helped in Calais again this month.  It’s a lot quieter than it was last time I was there – which was just before the evictions.  They’d rather a few more people!  But there was a small upside to this.  It’s alot easier to volunteer with a young person when it’s not full to the rafters.

I met Libby and Maia.  The whole three days I was there they were beavering away at the ‘dry food’ – bagging up sugar, spices, olives…  it goes to the free shop at the Dunkirk camp, among other places.  I asked if they’d mind a few cheesy pictures and a chat about what they think of it all.

It started as them coming along with an experienced chef and then finding something to do.  Now the dry foods are their expert area, but the first time they came Maia helped out almost everywhere.  clothes sorting, veggie chopping…

Why does Maia like it?  we talked a lot about how nice it is to feel you’re doing something that matters, and getting to the end of it.  Each small task has an end.  And Maia is happy that she can do SOMETHING, as she’s aware of how many people are forced to move and how difficult their conditions are.

Last time they came, they made a load of mini videos – Maia showed them in an assembly at her school.  I’m not sure it was what she intended – she said something like “my teacher just told me “you’re doing an assembly!”  Well, good on that teacher.

Mum Libby:  “I had at least six Mums tell me they want to come and help after that assembly.”

They might not have made it.  They probably didn’t.  But in her school there are also a few refugees – so the chances are some of the kids in her school will now have a litte snapshot of how their lives panned out up til now, and the interactions between everyone might just be a little more empathetic

And just recently, MPs voted 247-1 to maintain our promise to the unaccompanied children in Calais. Some of them have changed their minds since last time and there has been some pretty strong lobbying up and down the country.

This warehouse in Calais isn’t the perfect place to volunteer with a kid.  The woodyard certainly isn’t! But this pair have made it work, and the rewards for everyone are pretty immense.  Other times we’ve involved all ages in making spice bags – no travel required! and there are ways you can make most things work.

Vounteering isn’t just about the task  that you do.  It’s the glitter bomb of things that happen as a result of that one task.  They happen inside… and they happen to others.

I support people coordinating volunteers through advice, project work and training.
Online courses – access from anywhere!

Autumn 2016: Open Courses

feedingbackOpen courses with places in the next few months:

Demonstrating the VALUE of your Volunteers:  13th October

We’ll work out how to gather evidence of all that good stuff you know is happening,  and use it – to celebrate your own achievements, create great funding bids, or build partnerships with others.

Book here – prices from £25

More about the course here


Volunteers and the Law:  WHO can volunteer, and HOW?  16th November

Fully up-to-date, covering relevant employment law and minimum wage legislation,  health and safety, DBS checks and busting a few immigration myths along the way.

Book here – prices from £25

More about the course here

These courses are both in Chelmsford – a train from London, and well connected to Essex and Suffolk.  Please share!

Recruiting Volunteers – Accredited:  7th December

more info soon


FREE Live Online Workshops!

supported by santander

After a useful – (and highly amusing – thanks Tom for the Heavy Metal requests…) first session with attendees from around the UK we are ready for SESSION TWO!

Workshops and networking LIVE on the internet.  Why?!

We’ll explore some of the ways we can create classrooms online, some of the barriers and opportunities, and you will look at the times and places this would work in your projects.

Wednesday 21st October 1.30pm  ONE HOUR ONLY!

Think this is weird?  No idea what I’m on about?  BRILLIANT, please be involved!

I’ve been a teacher and trainer for 15 years and I love watching people take on new information and ideas.   I recently attended an online classroom  about live training on the internet.  It blew me away!  And I realised that in certain circumstances online classrooms are a great way to learn.

Join me to try this out:

Unltd – supporting social entrepreneurs – have a small fund to support networking, and I have a grant to pilot these ideasupported by santanders.



Sign up for everything here.  I’ll send lots more info and give you a call next week.  (IGNORE SESSION ONE QUESTIONS!)

Session 3  will be a group session at the Learning Lodge in Chingford E4 – what was all that about then and how did we find it?!  TWO HOURS.  WITH CAKE.   We will agree this date during session 2, so that it suits those that have signed up.

What I want from you.

Please give me feedback.  Honest conversations about this kind of networking and learning are essential!

What I can offer:

I have many years’ experience of involving volunteers and supporting others, and of standard learning environments, so I hope you’ll get questions answered and a broad knowledge of good practice.

I will also support you fully to access the training – logging in with you in the same location if necessary.  I’m interested in actively involving those who are the most nervous and sceptical about this kind of learning environment!

Hope to ‘see’ you online soon!

Networking and Training: Waltham Forest Autumn 2015

  vawf logo A series of opportunities to learn, share skills and network with other coordinators in North East London this Autumn. Sessions are facilitated by Rebecca Tully, in partnership with Significant Seams and Voluntary Action Waltham Forest.  Booking details below and at the Voluntary Action Website.significant-seams-logo

Involving the Busy People – planning for short term and low-responsibility roles.
Friday 25th September   10am – 12.  Significant  Seams, 131 Wood St, London E17 3LX. FREE

A 2 hr session with Significant Seams and Team London exploring how preparation as organisations can help us harness the skills of people that are willing to help but don’t have much time.  BOOK HERE

Time-Saving Tech for Volunteer Coordinators
Tuesday 29th September  10am-3pm Learning Lodge, Pimp Hall Nature Reserve, Off Kings Road, London E4 7HR
£50 including networking lunchnetworklunch

We’ll look at all the ways you can make your life easier as a co-ordinator with online forms, surveys, email newsletters and social media tips.  Expect practical and hands-on solutions for your job!  BOOK HERE

Planning Great Taster Sessions – getting things done with short term tasks
Thursday 22nd October 10am -12   Voluntary Action Waltham Forest, Waltham Forest Resource Hub (Central), 1 Russell Road, London E10 7ES.  FREE

A 2 hr session with Significant Seams and Team London exploring role creation for introductory tasks that lots of people can be involved in, and that benefit the organisation.  BOOK HERE

Dealing with Difficult Situations with Volunteers
Tuesday 3rd November  10am-2pm Voluntary Action Waltham Forest, Waltham Forest Resource Hub (Central), 1 Russell Road, London E10 7ES

A 3 hr session looking at some of the more challenging situations we come across and how to avoid, or deal with these issues.
£40 including networking lunch  BOOK HERE

Covering our bases…Best Practice Basics

Very engaging and informative… with a positive, inclusive ethos” Natalie, Forest Farm Peace Garden

Volunteer Management has found its way back into the news recently for reasons we’d all rather avoid – no volunteer co-ordinator wants to end up in the High Court proving their volunteer is not an employee, or settling an employment tribunal discrimination case out of court… Whilst these situations are rare, it seems a good time to remind ourselves of the basics of getting involved and keeping people involved, whatever our project and however many of us there are doing it, voluntarily or as a paid co-ordinator.

Motivations Retention and Roles is an interactive and fun half-day session, part of a course of four, for those co-ordinating or supporting volunteers as part of their role. If getting people involved and/or supporting them in their voluntee055ring is what you do – or part of it – this is for you. The session reinforces the basics of best practice in keeping people involved, in particular creating roles that best suit your organisation.

The content includes:

  • Why do people volunteer and what do they bring?
  • Reimbursing volunteer expenses
  • Working out what you want as an organisation
  • Writing killer task descriptions!

By the end of the morning session you will:

  • Understand what motivates volunteers, and how organisations benefit
  • Assess their organisation’s needs and write a task description to fill the need
  • Understand the process of recruiting volunteers and how it relates to volunteer retention
  • Be able to explain appropriate expenses and why reimbursement is necessary

You can browse other course titles here.

To book, just call Happy on 020 7375 7300. Details of the courses are online here but it’s best to call to book. The price of each half day is from £50. I look forward to seeing you there!

Online support for coordinators

Thoughtful Thursdays is a weekly twitter tweet chat and discussion: a chance to chat and connect, learn and share with other Volunteer Managers.

Each week a different co-ordinator publishes a new blog in the group Thoughtful Thursdays from VMmovement via   The blog provides our theme and focus for that week’s discussion and poses specific questions to get you thinking and responding.

You can join in the discussion in two different ways:

1. Over on twitter you can share your soundbites in 140 characters or less – just make sure you reference each tweet with the hashtag #ttvolmgrs so we know you’re part of the chat.

2. Alternatively, if you need more space to expand your thoughts, or if twitter isn’t your thing – you can respond using the comments section below the blog.

It’s really simple!  You can also take your turn to write a blog post.

To keep up to date, join the group on ivo and/or follow @vmmovement on twitter – that way you’ll always know when it’s Thursday. Here are a few of the ‘Thursdays’ I have written…


Great Volunteer Recruitment and DBS Checks

Training at Happy for LVSC April 8th

DBSFlow2auto2I’ll be running a full day workshop at Happy/LVSC next month addressing the recent changes in criminal record checks for volunteers, and looking at all the great ways of recruiting to keep your organisation and volunteers safe. It will build on the half day workshops I’ve delivered in London and beyond on the recent DBS changes.  Things people liked about those workshops…

  • “Opportunity to discuss as a group”
  • “Practical/real exercises”
  • “Clarity – I’d had DBS overload!”

If you missed previous courses and would like to spend some time considering checking and recruiting volunteers:  now’s your chance! The course is on 8th April – to book please see the details in this brochure...  or call Happy on 02073757300.

More details of what will be covered:

  • Picking apart the JARGON of DBS
  • Activities: checking real-life volunteer roles
  • Visual explanations of different levels of check
  • Group discussion to explore individual recruitment issues

Take a look at these resources for more of an idea of the course:

Example Activities

Example slides from the presentations


Who Can Volunteer?

UPDATE:  This course is now included in the LIVE ONLINE training: “Who Can Volunteer: Age, Immigration and Welfare Conundrums”

If you’ve joined me for training around Volunteers and the Law in the last couple of years, you’ll possibly remember a discussion around where exactly Asylum Seekers are allowed to volunteer.  whocanvolunteerYou may remember me explaining the odd nature of the law – only in a charity, nothing public sector, no NHS.  “But what about a children’s centre?” Some people asked. Or… “We’re a social enterprise?” And then my guarded response… weigh up the facts, and the risks for your organisation, and maybe think about disregarding these guidelines.  Or at the very least signpost your volunteer somewhere else.

Well now you don’t have to pick your way through these decisions.  refugee actionAfter a huge amount of effort and public support – ‘ongoing badgering’ as Fiona Liddell puts it! by Refugee Action and others,  Asylum Seekers now have the right to volunteer in any organisation.  You can also volunteer if you have had your asylum claim refused. This is great news and evidence that campaigning works.  punishing povertyMaybe we could move our thoughts now to benefit sanctions and mandatory work activity – undermining the nature and the positive effects of volunteering and creating sick individuals and communities.

I’ve updated my slides, and share Here…  this example includes some other info too about creating contracts and the common law duty of care.

Please get in touch if you’d like more info or would like to collaborate on campaigns around the blurring of the edges of volunteering.