Looking back…Moving Forward

That was me, last year at our event at the Ollerton & Boughton Scout & Guide Activity Centre celebrating Volunteers Week 2019..  Today I am sat in our spare bedroom, I would like to say home office but it’s just a yellow room, musing on WHAT A DIFFERENCE 12 MONTHS has made.

I have been involved with volunteers since 31st August 2005, when I went for an interview as a Voluntary Services Co-ordinator based at the Wells Road Centre.  We have come along way in the last 15 years, from paper desk diaries and an Excel Spread Sheet storing volunteer details to virtual meetings via Microsoft Teams and a bespoke Volunteering Portal, we have tried to move with the times.

However, during the past 75 days I have been in lock down I have seen and been a part of some more radical changes, many of which I hope will continue….

Call to Arms

The call to arms from the Royal Voluntary Service and the resulting 750’000 volunteers signing up to help vulnerable and isolated people.  The ability to log your availability and need via an app is fantastic.  The national recognition of the impact that volunteers have and have had should not be underestimated. #cheerforvolunteers

Communication with Volunteers

We have tried to keep our volunteers up to date with the latest news, via newsletters, emails, texts and social media channels. We know a lot can happen in 24 hours. The introduction and use of Microsoft Teams during this time is phenomenal, I hope that we are able to build on this over the coming months, create opportunities for volunteers to be involved in their previous roles virtually and be able to equipment them with the skills to be able to do so.

Covid-19 Roles

During the pandemic we stood down all our volunteers, but a smaller group stepped forward to be a part of our Covid-19 Response Volunteer Team we have had volunteers involved with;

  • PPE Distribution and Storage Management
    • Medication/Prescription Deliveries
    • Virtual Visitor Volunteers in our Medium/Low Secure \Forensic Units
    • Writing Postcards of Hope to individual patients or wards

We have been able to deploy active volunteers within a few hours of a call being made, something I hope that we can carry on.  So, if a ward and unit require feedback collecting, a volunteer can be notified and deployed as quickly as possible.

Going forward I know that our volunteers will return in larger numbers, we will be able to offer new placements in new areas of our organisation, alongside staff that before had never worked with volunteers, but we do need to ensure that the return process is done both safely and securely.

Volunteers are made for Sharing

I hope that our processes can now be more efficient, although not for all, interviews can be done remotely, training can be done online and paperwork can be minimised, creating a faster and slicker method of working.  I want to be able to adopt the Volunteer Passport from NHS England and the Helpforce National Volunteer Certificate, and capitalise on the flexible movement of volunteers between NHS providers without need to repeat the full recruitment and training process.  I feel that we need to stop being so precious about our volunteers and learn to share them around.

Restoration, Recovery and Reform

Over the next couple of weeks, we are hoping to return to the centres with a view to planning the return of our volunteers, but ensuring that we keep them [volunteers], our staff, patients and organisation safe.

I look forward to seeing you all (not virtually) soon.

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