Marie talks about working with the Vision for Volunteering

Thank you. And good morning. Um, if you could just start off by, please introducing yourself? Certainly. Hello? Uh, my name is Marie Whitson

I am the Gateshead volunteering development coordinator. And I work for an infrastructure support charity called Connected Voice, which covers Newcastle and Gateshead. Thank you

Um, so if you could tell me a bit about how you've used vision for volunteering where you are Well, at the moment, uh, we are establishing a new volunteer centre for Gateshead. So there hasn't been one in the area for a good number of years, and it was recognised that support was really crucial for local V CS, E organisations and individual residents of Gateshead. So we're establishing the centre, and fundamentally it is to support the health and well being of Gateshead residents through volunteering

So the vision for volunteering is absolutely crucial in this because we're embedding those principles into everything we do. Um, all every all our work is interlinked around those vision for Vol volunteering themes. It gives us a framework from which to work to, um and it also gives us aspirations to work towards as well

So we've taken the the four the five themes, really as our base. And we've looked at how we can support organisations and individuals in Gateshead through volunteering. So things like collaboration

You know, we we're doing a lot of locality working. We don't have a a headquarters as such, we don't have an office, we're out in the community. We're based in community centres and libraries and, well, anyone anyone will give us a cup of tea really will come and sit down and help

And we can work with those organisations and look at their policies and their procedures and we can give them moral support and advice whatever they might need. And we also get to talk to those residents who get to talk to the of those centres and those buildings who are coming through. And they might be coming through for many different reasons, not for volunteering

They might not even have thought about volunteering or even know what it is, what it means because it means different things to different people. So you can have those informal chats with them. You can pass the idea to them and say, What do you think? You know? Maybe maybe it could help you um, you know, in whatever way that you need

So So this is really great. So we're reaching, um, people that maybe we haven't haven't been able to reach before. Um, So, um, so that's a really wonderful way of sort of, um, giving power to those communities as well

Um, so we're going to them. We're asking them what they want, and we're giving them that opportunity. Um, we do a lot of, uh, skills based volunteering as well

So we've got, um, a lovely lady called Jenny who works on something called Sector Connector. And she is collaborating with, um, businesses, uh, trying to find, um, some particular skills that will help, um organisations in the community, um, things that they might not be able to afford themselves like or health and safety or marketing and social media. Those specific skills, um, and asking people in those businesses to volunteer their time on a pro bono basis

So that's creating lots of lovely connections as well. And we also support with corporate volunteering. So we again are connecting businesses and organisations and communities to try and look at what that mutual benefit is there as well

In terms of group volunteering. So loads of stuff around collaboration. Um, And if we look, if we look at power, then you know, we're wanting to, um, to give to give power back to the not only just volunteers within the community, so they can tell us what what we what, What we need to be doing and what needs what is best for them

But we're also working with, um, volunteer professionals. So we've got this amazing peer support network of volunteer coordinators. We've got about 100 and, well, I think we might be about 100 and 15 members now, and the support that they've they've shown is wonderful

So we have quarterly meetings. Um, and we talk about, um uh what are the trends? What What what, uh, what do they need to look out for? What are the issues and the challenges that they're facing At the moment, it's about, um, creating tools to embrace that sort of need and making connections and networking. But it's also about listening

It's about listening to what this network needs in Gateshead and how we at Gateshead Volunteer Centre can give them, you know, um, the the the help and the support or the tools to be able to do that. So that's brilliant. I remember seeing you run a workshop as well

Didn't you sort of around the vision with that group? Absolutely. We've done it twice now, Uh, so the last couple of meetings we've had, we've taken down the themes and we've asked them to look at, um, how they think the themes are working now and how what they would like to see in sort of three years time. And that's linking into the strategy that we're putting together for, Gates said as well

So it's part of our consultation process using those five themes really at the core of what our strategy might look like. Um, And alongside that, we've got a cosign panel of volunteers. So we're recruiting for that at the moment so that we can get really try to dig down into the detail of what that might mean for Gateshead

Um, and we've got a gen a general survey out as well. So we're we're doing OK with that. We've got nearly up to 200 responses, which I think is pretty good

Um, because people get people get a lot of surveys. Um, so that's that's for people who volunteer, but people who don't volunteer as well. And, of course, they're sometimes the hardest people to get feedback from

So we're pushing that out as far and wide to try and look at what the motivations for volunteering are. And maybe what the motivations for not volunteering are as well. So look at those barriers and try and try and address those as much as we can in the next three years as well

So it's quite exciting. Yeah, and that so that taps into the awareness and appreciation theme as well, doesn't it? Understanding motivations? Yeah. I mean, there's so much going on at the moment

We've had significant events like the pandemic pandemic, and we can really see the cost of living crisis starting to bite now. And it's it's not going to get any better in the near future. So we need to make sure that we're adapting our practise and we're giving the support that's relevant to people and that that changes all the time

So So, yeah, hopefully that's the plug, Um, and around awareness and appreciation as well, you know, we've got we've set up a new brokerage portal. So we've got the Our Gates head website, which has been a long standing community website and we've updated that. So it's a free resource for for organisation to put on their services, but also crucially to recruit for volunteers and that's proving really successful

So all we're really encouraging people to put their details on there and then we're working with them to make it as attractive as possible to potential volunteers. So we're asking what is the value of what you're giving back? What is the impact that your organisation will have through working alongside those volunteers, how they directly contributing to a better place and G head on whatever form that is. So yeah, that's been fantastic

Um and then we're also working. We we sort of support. We can do a little bit more of an extra support for some volunteers as well

So those volunteers that maybe need a little bit of extra guidance and moral support to volunteer. So we're working with referral organisations to look at what those barriers are and try and collaborate with other agencies to make it as as easy as possible for that person to volunteer, and that could be a route into employment. Perhaps it could be forbidden because of mental health issues, and they just they just want to get out and socialise

Um, they might have a particular disability, um, or health concern that that makes it a little bit more difficult, that kind of thing. So we very much collaborating and working to make sure that our, you know, the it's equitable and inclusive for as many different people as as possible. So, yeah, um, so we're seeing a lot of volunteers coming forward with complex needs now and so that that, um, all of those themes sort of link into that

The collaboration, the awareness and appreciation that people have skills and that it's worth investing in in them, uh, long term to make it as equitable, inclusive as possible. Um, and also to just hand back some power to those individuals that they can to show them they can and show them the benefits that volunteering can bring as well. So, yeah, just just a few things going on there, But it's really wonderful

And you can see how those themes overlap as well, can't you? You know, once you start talking about one, you kind of you know, you bring in another, don't you? Thank you. In terms of what you would like to see next from vision for volunteering or what you might need kind of going forward to continue some of this work. Yeah

I mean, I mean, our our aim really is for volunteering to to to be the norm, to to be to become part of people's lives. You know that they they think of it in the same time. Same sort of terms as work and family life, and it's it's connected

It becomes part of who they are and how they how they in sort of, um, associate with their communities and this kind of thing. Um, for as the future with vision for volunteering, it's it's it's a bright future. You know, the awareness raising and advocacy um, from from vision for volunteering is crucial to continue to galvanise organisations whether they're big, small, national international local um, just to really show the value and the power of volunteering, um, and the and the impact is that impact it can have because some people, just until they volunteer, they don't realise sometimes the significance of what they're doing and how it makes them feel

And the more we can get that message out, um, to show how valuable it is to to the country, you know, the better, Really? So keep us up to date with all that latest thinking, All those trends, um, the child, you know, give us help us with the tools and the support with resources and to try and lead us in that best practise so that we we've got some kind of consistency of voice across the country. And I think that that for us, and just to know that there are people like you, Laura who we can turn to as well, um, and ask advice from that's that's crucial. And to know that people are fighting our corner

Um, in terms of how brilliant volunteering is lovely, lovely. And thank you. Um, anything else you would like to kind of reflect on your own vision for volunteering? Oh, goodness

No. Just keep. Just keep going

Keep going. Doing it. Um, I often I often feel like I'm preaching to the converted

You know, the people that I speak to the volunteer coordinators and professionals that I work alongside. We all get it. We all know how wonderful it is

Um and, you know, because you're a big a big organisation, you've got a big reach and you're talking to some powerful and influential people. That's really crucial, because we can do the groundwork. We're we're in those communities

We're talking to those people, but we don't always have the reach that you might have. So, uh, it's great to know that we can feed all that information back to you, and you can feed it into the right channels as well. Ok, thank you very much

Gonna stop recording..

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