Cajoled vs. Coerced. Cajoled Wins.

Coerced volunteering, or mandatory work placements under threat of sanctions – which do so much to erode strong supportive volunteering cultures – have been making the news again with a study showing that sanctions do nothing to get people into better work, or better health. (It’s already been proved that good, unsanctioned volunteering placements DO have a positive impact, I wrote about this a few years ago when I looked at how different a healthy cajoling someone into getting involved is to outright, money-related sanctions that leave individuals in dire poverty.) Continue reading “Cajoled vs. Coerced. Cajoled Wins.”

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Who Can Volunteer?

Rebecca (2)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.

This was a few years ago now, and STILL the other day I was told – “Asylum seekers can’t volunteer can they?”  YES!  YES!  YES!

Hawari and SalimThis shift in legislation has helped at least stem the flow of ostracisation of those seeking refuge on our shores.  It’s also been integral to the Stories and Supper initiative that I run.  Volunteers of all backgrounds work together to make great experiences for diners and to challenge the barrage of negative narratives around migration.  It is also a way for some of our asylum seeking partners to use their considerable skills while not allowed to work in this country.  And some have been here for years… waiting for their lives to restart. (If you’d like to volunteer with these guys – email Helen!  storiesandsupper@gmail.com )

Some slides from both Volunteers and Employment Law and the ‘Who Can Volunteer’ course are here – and give you a flavour of how interactive our one hour oline sessions can be.  So if you have a burning question that an online search or colleagues aren’t able to help with  –  book on now!

Rebecca (2)

VolunteersYeah – Things we Find Ourselves Saying as Volunteer Coordinators available now.  Whether you have a small campaign, or a large project – tips and suggestions to make your life easier.

Yes NCVO! Let’s Be Bold!

This is ‘being bold for volunteering’:  Free resources for volunteer coordinators. Finding out what we need to know.  Fighting for the services that rely on the added value of volunteering.

Stuart Etherington' New Year Letter To the SectorDear Stuart,

Thank you for your New Year letter:  thoughts on the current situation for the voluntary sector.

It’s long!  It took me a while to read it and I had to look up solipsis but here I am with a response!

You say that you – and we – need to ‘be bold for volunteering.’   I see volunteers and coordinators being bold every day; I read your letter several times and really wasn’t clear exactly how NCVO will be being bold in 2017.

…So I have some thoughts to share! Continue reading “Yes NCVO! Let’s Be Bold!”

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…

vst-logo
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!

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!