Holly talks about her experiences with the Vision for Volunteering

today to talk about your, um, experiences with division called Volunteering. Um, so my first question is just, uh, tell us about your vision for volunteering journey. How did it start? Where are you now? So I've been in this role for just over a year now, sort of a year and a few months, Um and I guess having had my own really positive experiences volunteering, um, and wanting to to sort of give that back to other people. And so as I came into my role, which is people in leadership lead so focused on sort of maximising the potential of of people and and the workforce and both paid and voluntary in terms of sort of enabling people to be more active

Um, and we were sort of just on at the sort of middle point of a piece of research and working with a local university, um, and a AV CE volunteering advisory group around, um, how we can work more collaboratively with the VCC sector to sort of develop an understanding of how to take a more more systemic, more co ordinated approach to volunteering in sports activity and movement. Um, in great Manchester, Um and the vision was just kind of paramount to that. Throughout it was, you know, when we sort of wrote the brief for that piece of research, um, it was involved in that alongside a couple of other pieces of sort of research and insight from from the active live survey from Sport England and, uh, 10 GM state of the sector survey Those three kind of, um, pieces of insight and, um, and learning kind of together created a perfect opportunity to to undertake some specific research

Um, and yeah, I think just just from the start, it was something that we felt aligned really well to to our our mission and our vision and what we were trying to achieve in terms of volunteering and having that kind of longer term piece of work to to aim towards, um and and think it aligned really well to to our own ways of working in terms of, um, you know, wanting to kind of distribute leadership and power, um, to the communities that we we work with, um, in terms of collaboration. So that I think that piece of research is a really good example of where we were sort of already living the values of provision and bringing it to life. So, um, in terms of collaboration, like I said, we work with a ABC C advisory group and that was comprised of around sort of 15 to 20 individuals from different organisations across the the city region, um, range of sectors, range of backgrounds, um, which is really reflective of of Greater Manchester and and the V, CS E, um, space

And it was it was just a really kind of unique way of, of doing things of kind of bringing together demia and that kind of research expertise with, um those who kind of live and breathe volunteering on on the ground. It's their It's their It's their day to day. Um, they have that kind of insight and knowledge of what's happening, um, on the ground in in Greater Manchester, both within the sports space

But more broadly, whether that's in terms of, um, working with specific faith groups working with, um, different diverse communities. Um, and just just generally kind of having that that insight of what's happening What what are the challenges? Um, what are the kind of, um, constraints in terms of resources and funding. Um, and just thinking about, you know, how can we sort of core some recommendations working with both of those groups or working with the university and working with that advisory group, and that that will benefit volunteers and volunteer involving organisations in great Manchester, um, in relation to sports activity and movement

So, um, throughout that, we did sort of six advisory group workshops and meetings where, um, we sort of brought partners together to to think about those recommendations and and the vision was sort of always, always at the centre of that. It was something, you know, every time I sort of introduced the session, it was, you know, this is what we're working towards. This is something that we can we can all sort of keep in mind in this space

Um, because we're fortunate that we've kind of got our own 10 year strategy, um, gear moving in action. And it's it was really useful to have a national kind of framework within the the volunteering space to align to, um within that and, um, which which, like I say, really kind of mapped out to our own ways of working um, and our own sort of, um, perspective on on what we think volunteering wouldn't and should look like in the future. Um, so, yeah, I think that was kind of how I first came across

The vision was through a piece of work. And then, as we've worked to, sort of launch that research, um, and to to start to implement some of the recommendations from that, Um, again, we've just been keeping the vision in mind and been keeping sort of abreast of what's happening with that. And we also sort of shared the vision with our community of practise

Um, in our last session, So we sort of spent an hour just sort of running through the themes and and asking What? Um, Because we want to kind of keep it front and centre of the work and, um, keep partners thinking about how they can also kind of contribute to the vision. Love that. Thanks

Um, loads of detail there. Um, you talked a little bit about, um, collaboration and how you've kind of used that sort of baked that into this project. Um, can you talk about any of the other themes that you've used in this project and and how that helped kind of support the the the way that you approach this project

Yeah, definitely. I think I think power is a big one. I think, you know, as a a fairly large sort of charity within within great Manchester

Um, in terms of kind of outreach and and the number of organisations that we work with, um, and the the sort of part key partners that we work with as well, um, I think it would have been quite easy for us to sort of just just keep that research in house or just to kind of work with the university on that and, um, enter to kind of come to a set of recommendations that are really well informed by by research, whether that's kind of focus groups or interviews. Um and And we We also did complete, um, undertake a survey as part of that research as well, with with a range of organisations, but actually by kind of from the start involving, um, sort of key organisations from the V CS E sector and and who kind of work in the volunteering space on the ground? Um, we felt that was a real kind of nice way of shifting the power dynamic a little bit and and not, um and not sort of imposing what we think should happen is actually around really kind of listening to what? What those organisations were seeing, what they were sort of struggling with and what they were also doing. Well, um, and from the university's perspective as well, this was quite a new way of working

Um, they had to kind of adapt and change what they would normally do in terms of, you know, these things take more time. You know, um, we know that that time and capacity in the BC C sector is really limited at times. And, um and it was around kind of creating that II

I think it's, you know, power as part of this book. It it hits across all the themes. Really

I think in terms of collaboration, um, you know it The whole project was a collaboration, um, in terms of equity and inclusion. Like I say, we had a really sort of diverse group of people in the in the advisory group meetings, um, and experimentation. It was quite a new way of doing things

It's, you know, it's not something that we'd really done before in terms of having that partnership between AIA and BCS. E. Um, I think I think power felt like the the main one

That really kind of threw it in terms of, um, when we funded the project, we sort of split that funding between the academic research partner and the V CS C partners. Um, so we we're paying people for their time and their experience, um, and and just really placing an equal value on that, Um, because it was it was equally valuable, Um, if not more more so because it's it's that experience that really helped us to kind of create recommendations that were relevant were were kind of meaningful in that, um, that I think also building those relationships has has been really helpful in terms of us then going to actually put the recommendations into action on the ground as well. I think if we would have kept it kind of a real top down approach, I think it would be difficult to then get that buy in from organisations and to say we've got this research

Do you want to help us sort of try some things. But by having those existing relationships, um, it's made that so much easier as well and so much more impactful. Um, so, yeah, I think that's probably a good example of Yeah

Yeah, great. Thank you. Um, so I know that you said that this is like a kind of long term project, but can you just talk a little bit about some of the kind of impact that you guys are seeing about around this project? Yeah, definitely

I think, uh, like I mentioned the the the core sort of purpose really was around. Um, those cross sector partnerships in terms of sport and productivity as a as a sector, um, and the the wider voluntary community social enterprise sector. Um, and what we sort of found previously was that those two worlds don't really speak to each other too much

And there's a bit of a separation and a bit of a disconnect. Um, but actually, by bringing together the different research and insight and by this new piece of research, um, we've been able to really sort of, um in be more integrated into those spaces. Um, whether that's through sort of attending volunteer managers, forums and networks and sort of talking about sport, physical activity, movement based volunteering opportunities, um, sharing the research

And and and we've got a a number of sort of working groups that sit around the the community practise that I mentioned earlier. Um, and it's it's really enabled us to take a real kind of the whole system approach to what we're doing. So, actually, by bringing in those VCC organisations who have local connections, they have the knowledge and insight around volunteering in that local area, Um, and sort of connecting them with sports clubs, groups, organisations

So for example, we we're currently doing a piece of work around, um, disability volunteering within within Stockport, one of the 10 borough of Greater Manchester. Um, and having that buy in from those kind of partners both within BC, C and sport, has made that project so much more impactful because, you know, we're really, really looking at it from a range of perspectives. It's not just kind of sports clubs who want to be more inclusive

It's actually connecting them with central volunteers that might come through the volunteer centre and so forth and and things like that. Um, we've been able to sort of get some investment out to partners to to try, try different things around volunteering and, um, particularly looking at Children and young people and how we can support them to sort of define what volunteering means to them and, um, to really kind of shape their own experiences there. Um, and probably just one more example is through, um, through the commu music reporter training that, um, as part of the vision we've we've been looking at exploring the impact of the cost of living, and we know that's having a huge impact on people's ability to volunteer and on organisations in terms of their sustainability

So, um, we're looking at sort of working with organisations and individuals to, um sort of upskill them to to be able to capture their own stories around that, um around what barriers they're facing and around what support is needed from from us and just from the wider kind of system within greater Manchester to support them to to access, volunteering and and experience benefits. Um, so yeah, I think it's just it's been great to just feel like there's there's greater integration and connectivity between our sector and and the wider BC C sector. Um, but I'm also really excited to see where those working groups go as well that they're all sort of still ongoing and and at different stages

But, you know, as we sort of reflect back in in maybe a year's time, it'll be really exciting to see where they they go in terms of impact. Awesome. That's really great

Thanks so much, Holly. Thank you.

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