How to make a Volunteer Army…

My podcast with the @workhubs Cafe Garage Project –

“So how do we organise a group of people, without telling them what to do, make it inspirational, have them showing up at the right time… it’s got to be like a fun engageing community project?”

Here’s how I answered!




Community through Volunteering: Waltham Forest

I’m happy to be heading to Community Waltham Forest’s Spring into Volunteering event on 22nd March.  community waltham forest

I’ll be talking through some online training ideas, signposting to resources and hopefully meeting other people (like you?!) who coordinate community action in my area.

Are you involving people in Waltham Forest?  Come along and share what you’re up to.  This borough has SO MUCH going on, and I’m looking forward to seeing some joining up of dots. s and S poster.jpg Community Waltham Forest’s website has a space to add your own events – I’ll be throwing our Stories and Supper event on there today!  You can also add your own volunteering opportunity.

Come and say hi, tell me what you’re up to and I’ll let you know about the opportunities going on at The Hornbeam, the exciting campaigns to keep our community spaces (like Higham Hill’s Library campaign) and the heart-warming Stories and Supper project happening on April 1st.  See you there!


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. A young guy was there – he’d been there in week 1 and i wasn’t sure we’d see him back. He has just got his status – and a month later, is now out of his ‘asylum seeker’ accomodation and homeless. In the UK, you get one month after being allowed to stay to find a job, access English lessons, find the deposit for a room, find a room.

It put my anxiety in perspective.

Anyhoo. I said “let’s refer you to Refugees at Home.”

I happen to know they rock because we have hosted. R@HLogoSMI got random bits of information out of him and told them on their nifty online form (developed by a volunteer, as was everything) the little I knew about him (“His favourite food is a tomato salad with lemon juice and garlic” – it is a food project we’re doing so that was pretty much all I know! That – and he smiles alot).

I said “I hope… I try…” we smiled… and we left it at that.

This afternoon I got an email. Turns out two other people have also referred him. So it didn’t matter too much that my details were patchy.  Perhaps it was just enough.

And there’s a guy in London who can host him for a few nights. They’re working on a longer plan. And they bothered to tell me too.

MalikcropSo across London, people are doing these little bits. And they’re adding up to something. I’m so glad.

If you can host, just for a few nights, please consider it. It will have a long term affect.  I came across a pretty beautiful story of hosting today too- in Germany.  And the guy who stayed with us has a room now.  This is us on his last day. CHEESY PIC!

If you’d like some great online forms to make your Volunteer Coordinator life easier, if you work in Volunteer Management or involve people as a volunteer (like every single one of the lovely people at Refugees at Home) you might be interested in this training and a free taster session.  Access from anywhere.  See you there!

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!

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!

Why All the Fuss? Managing Volunteers

This is so beautiful I want to marry it.  Here are the bits you don’t see – the reason it’s an art to get a project up and running, to get people involved, to make sure we all support each other.  The reason it needs recognition and a bit of cash every now and then.


Proving our Worth. Who, When, How?

This was originally posted on as a ”Thoughtful Thursday’ volunteer managers tweet and blog chat.

At the tail end of last year, my colleague Kim and I had the opportunity to work with Greater London Volunteering, developing a set of tools to evaluate what volunteers and organisations achieve through their work. Continue reading “Proving our Worth. Who, When, How?”

Latest Learning Opportunities

Facilitating Groups Effectively – a two-day course through LVSC and Happy. Highly interactive with lots of chance to practice techniques, and time to reflect on your own skills and development.
Previous comments on the course: “Clever approach”…     “Lots of short sessions that covered plenty of content”  16th/17th October, course outline here, please call to book on 020 7375 7300

Volunteer Management: the next date of the popular Talk Action course is 29th October: covering all the essentials of co-ordinating volunteers and opportunities to meet other co-ordinators in a central but peaceful setting. Previous reviews include… “Mind- opening”!

AvenueHouse17Training/Networking in Waltham Forest: Another half day with training input, skill sharing and a tasty lunch for groups in North East London.  This month – Supporting Motivating and Delegating at the beautiful Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow. Let me know what you’re working on and I’ll tailor the activities…  6th November 10am… join us for training or just come for lunch and a chat.  More info here.

Recruiting Volunteers:  An accredited one day course run through Voluntary Sector Training in Essex. 9th December 2014. Part of a two course module QCF accredited.  But still a HEAP of fun.  ;o)


Demonstrating the Value of your Volunteer Programme

Many groups are keen to know more about evidencing the impact their volunteers have at the moment, to strengthen their case with funders or fight for the importance of their service.  This course looks at ways of evidencing the good work your volunteers do simply and efficiently, and enable you to attract funding.

If you would like me to deliver this course in your organisation please get in touch.
Volunteer Management Micro-Training

Take advantage of these informal half-day or full-day opportunities to build your capacity to work alongside and support volunteers in whatever you are doing. You won’t have to leave your workplace and you’ll still feel the benefits that training interaction brings!

1-to-1 or small group micro-training sessions in volunteering: choose the areas you want to explore and I will prepare a tailored session for you and your organisation.

More info here.

If you have any problems booking onto these courses please contact me.


Social Mission, Sustainable Enterprise AND Great Volunteers?

(Originally posted on as part of the Thoughtful Thursdays support network for volunteer managers)

I train people in volunteer management, and am also part of a workers’ co-op that grows and sells food.  I have for a while been noticing differences in these two work spaces I inhabit: whilst volunteers are involved in both sectors, attitudes and practice feel a little different between organisations that generate income through selling, and what we might refer to as the more traditionally ‘funded’ voluntary sector.  Continue reading “Social Mission, Sustainable Enterprise AND Great Volunteers?”