This blog was written by Lyndsy Jones and Laura Ingham. Lyndsy manages the DMH Involvement & Volunteering Centre in Nottingham, Laura manages the Rosewood Involvement & Volunteering Centre in Ollerton.
Over the last year, the Involvement and Volunteering Centres have been mostly closed due to lockdowns and national restrictions. Although this has been a difficult time, we have decided to take a positive opportunity from this situation and review the Centres. We met with a small group of volunteers to speak with them about the function of the Centres and how they support them in their volunteering with Nottinghamshire Healthcare. We also looked at how volunteering roles may be affected by the inclusion of digital methods of communication. One of the resounding things that came through from these conversations was although the Centres’ primary purpose is to support volunteering and involvement, they also create and nurture a sense of community amongst our volunteers. There isn’t a definite date for when these changes will be completely in place, as we’re still working to national restrictions. However, we hope that we’ll be able to achieve these given the current climate by September this year and will be phasing them in as we gradually reopen the Centres.
You can read the full proposal document here, which has summaries of the main themes of the conversations with volunteers as well as what these changes mean in practice. We plan on running this until the new year, at which point, we’ll review it again and will be welcoming volunteer and staff input as to how it’s been working.
A brief summary
Opening times & use of space
Each Centre will be open three days a week to volunteers, 10am-4pm. Rosewood will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the DMH Centre will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The two days the Centres are closed each week will likely be used to book meetings for other Involvement projects, Experience meetings, or specific Volunteer training sessions.
The Centres are a workspace for members of the IEV Team, but they’re also a workspace for volunteers. We want to encourage volunteers to use that space to help support them in their roles within the Trust. One way we’re doing this is to have computers and more office space available for volunteers to use as they need. To help volunteers with new digital landscape, we’ll be offering dedicated support time each week within the Centres to help people get online, access online training, get a Trust account or help navigate Microsoft Teams.
Meetings & Volunteer support
We’re bringing in “Weekly Catch Ups” in each of the Centres. These will be informal, un-minuted meetings which last around an hour. This is for volunteers to attend to talk about their roles, any issues, offer peer support, get updates about the Centres and catch up with staff. These will run on a Monday at DMH and Fridays at Rosewood. We’ll also be introducing a new Volunteer Team Meeting to discuss volunteering within the Involvement, Experience and Volunteering Team, within the Trust and the wider national landscape. These will be held monthly, minuted and also be accessible through the Volunteer Hub on Microsoft Teams.
Increasing range of access
Some people won’t want to access things digitally. Others may find it difficult to physically attend one of the Involvement Centres. In the proposal document, we’ve detailed how we plan on using a range of methods to keep in touch with volunteers to allow them to access us in their preferred way.
The fortnightly newsletter will move to monthly. We initially started the newsletter to help people keep connected in the first lockdown, but as we open back up and people resume roles, it’s not necessarily needed as frequently.