Volunteers have always been a key part of local communities, but volunteering took on a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of people coming forward to offer their help in the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. However, as we have moved through the pandemic, most local charities and community groups are now struggling to find and keep volunteers to support their vital local services.
In light of these challenges, Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL) and Voluntary Action South Leicestershire (VASL) held a joint event in Market Harborough in March to bring together local organisations to collectively look at recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers in these difficult times.
Eighteen organisations attended the event to share their views and experiences around volunteering, with Rohini Cor-field from VASL sharing her experience of managing volunteers, and a VASL volunteer sharing her perspective of being a local volunteer.
Discussions included the challenges of understanding different volunteer motivations, how to make volunteers feel part of team, offering support to meet different people’s needs and volunteers being able to make a regular commitment. Some of the ideas to help overcome these issues included volunteer social events, offering different methods for volunteers to stay in contact with volunteer managers and exploring different volunteer roles with more flexibility in days and times.
Most importantly, all organisations agreed that we need to share our experiences of what is working well with one another, keep talking to all of our volunteers and to continue to celebrate the successes and the impact of all of our fantastic volunteers. Everyone who volunteers their time is invaluable to local communities and we would all like to thank everyone who gives their time to make a difference!
VAL also shared information on the National Vision for Volunteering. Drawing on learning from working with volunteers in different ways during the pandemic, VAL is looking to work with local organisations to explore experimenting with different ways of involving volunteers in a wider variety of roles and activities.
Similarly, VAL is looking to encourage different groups of people to consider volunteer-ing in their communities in different ways, such as younger people, people with extra sup-port needs and people in more rural areas.
A more flexible area of volunteering is microvolunteering, small and flexible tasks that people can fit in around their other commitments.
VAL has some details of microvolunteering tasks on the Volunteering website, but will be working with local groups to develop some new ideas in the Harborough area over the next few months.
VAL can offer support and advice on local volunteering opportunities that you can get involved in, so if you would like to find out more, please contact the Helpline on 0116 2575050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org