Supporting Volunteer Practitioners and Volunteering

7 April 2020

As we are learning the affects that Covid-19 is having on our communities, services and volunteer programmes.  We are still exploring and developing new ways to best manage volunteers and support them.

Volunteer Scotland has created a group of volunteer practitioners from a wide range of organisations (operating locally and nationally) to share their experience at this time.

Through these blogs we want to share our collective learning and the practitioners’ voices.

This is our second blog and some key points from our group discussions are as follows:

The members of the group provided an update on their current situations and actions:

1. What support do volunteers need – some organisations have sent an online volunteer survey to all volunteers, asking them some key questions around what support they would like or require, if and how they would like to stay in contact and if they would like to continue to volunteer via remote volunteering roles.  Volunteers are also being asked if they would like to take a break. Organisations have kindly shared some samples of their volunteer surveys:

2. Creating new roles - some organisations have started to create new roles such as remote volunteering, telephone support and writing letters to service users. Others are exploring how to set up face to face support for service users through skype/zoom platforms. One member has shared their example of a created/adapted remote volunteering role:

3. How do we supporting volunteers - there was a lot of discussion around the many ways that group members are establishing support for volunteers.  These include online platforms, surveys, remote volunteering, phone calls and mentors for everyone. Other members were trying to meet the needs of their volunteers who like to see and communicating with other volunteers and is exploring the creation of a mentor programme where volunteers could support each other and check in on each other during the lockdown phase.

4. Keeping safe - how do we keep volunteers safe when delivering essential goods and dealing with money? There were several concerns from organisations around the issues of getting access to food for their service users, managing essential needs, delivering resources and dealing with payments.

It was also highlighted that essentials needs are not just food, some people have other essential needs, for example batteries for hearing aids, so how do we ensure people get the right essential deliveries.

Some key questions we would like you to reflect on:

  1. How do we access volunteers through Covid-19?: You can find information on advertising your volunteer opportunities at this time here.

  2. How do people with a disability get involved with volunteering through COVID-19?

  3. How do vulnerable people stay in contact with people through modern technology? One example of this is Ace it. They are an Edinburgh based charity which helps older people learn computer skills.

  4. How do we ensure we are still meeting GDPR – Information on this can be found on Information Commissioner’s Office website.

  5. What’s the implications to organisations when their volunteers volunteer for the NHS?

  6. Can organisations support the NHS through creating/adapting roles within their organisation.

Other key links to support volunteer practice:

We'll keep you posted on how our practice discussions progress over the next few weeks. If you'd like to take part please contact us.

Adrian and Allana.