Our band of over 130 volunteers are incredible; they help us to deliver a wide range of services to those in need and we’re grateful that they help ACT to be the charity that it is today. We recognise that, in return for their time and dedication, our volunteers should receive up-to-date training and also support for themselves.
As a charity, our concern is for our service users, our staff and our volunteers in equal measures, all of whom come from different areas of the community and have varying levels of experience and diverse needs, and we’re always grateful for the chance to learn new ways in which we can offer support to all.
Last week Lisa Miles, our Volunteer Development Manager, attended a Volunteer Development Forum hosted by @CommunityActionSuffolk with the aim of meeting, learning and sharing with other organisations. Lisa met representatives of other agencies including Ipswich Big Local Trust, Suffolk Fire Service and St Elizabeth Hospice, and the focus was on successfully managing volunteers’ mental health and the support structures that exist within the volunteering community – a chance to chat with colleagues.
Lisa shared ACT’s learning and discussed how social events (including staff and volunteer team days and celebrations), added an informal dimension that has definitely helped to strengthen our volunteer community and encourage retention. Lisa also outlined the regular hubs that ACT host for our volunteers around the county; sessions at which our volunteers can share experiences and gain the opinions of their colleagues, as well as a closed social media group on which volunteers can chat with staff and ask for advice.
Lisa summed up the forum in her own words: “It was great to meet my counterparts in other organisations – I’m pleased to take away some useful hints and tips. It’s also been great to share, at the forum, the fact that we’ve witnessed some of our volunteers‘ confidence and self esteem vastly improve through volunteering, learning new skills and meeting others – we know that the support we offer is invaluable to our volunteers.”
We are proud to have such an integrated staff and volunteer team that support one another and are very grateful to our dedicated team of volunteers – thanks to Community Action Suffolk for such a valuable opportunity to share.