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September 2009
Does your volunteer crew represent your entire community?
In This Issue
New Free Resources on Volunteering and Employability

Featured Books on Inclusion

Book Excerpt:
Solid Support - Starting Off Right

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This month we're featuring some resources that will help you engage members of your community who are often neglected as potential volunteers: people with disabilities, people with mental illnesses, asylum seekers, and unemployed people.

resourceNew Free Report and Blog Post on Volunteering and Employability
During the past several years, unemployment has risen or remained high in most countries around the world. Many out-of-work individuals seek volunteer roles to stay actively engaged in their work or to research other professions. In the UK, the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) just released "A Gateway to Work: The role of Volunteer Centres in supporting the link between volunteering and employability" that reports how British volunteer centers have embraced their role in helping individuals during times of unemployment.

Read our Book Blog post with Nick Ockenden, IVR's Head of Research, to get a glimpse of what the report entails and what volunteer resource managers can learn regarding engaging unemployed people as volunteers and creating a win-win situation. (For even more information on this topic, also see IVR's excellent reports on volunteering and social exclusion.)
BooksFeatured Books on Inclusion
The UK is way ahead of the rest of us in providing resources on volunteering and inclusion. These titles were all produced in England, but the principles and techniques are applicable around the world.

You Cannot Be Serious: A Guide to Involving Volunteers
w
You Cannot Be Seriousith Mental Health Problems
Packed with practical information, stories, tools and resources, this guide provides support and advice for people committed to making their organizations more socially inclusive and including individuals with mental health problems as volunteers.


The A-Z of Volunteering and Asylum:
A Handbook for Managers
Volunteering and Asylum
Refugees and asylum-seekers are potential new volunteers in England and other countries. Learn how to reach out successfully to involve this growing population for mutual benefits.


Volunteering by People with DisabilitiesVolunteering by People with Disabilities
A guide from the UK on how to recruit and retain people with disabilities in volunteer work as a route to opportunity, with a realistic approach to issues and barriers.


Volunteering by Unemployed People Volunteering by Unemployed People
A guide from the UK on how to recruit and retain people who are unemployed in volunteer work as a route to opportunity, with a realistic approach to issues and barriers.
Resources Book Excerpt
Solid Support - Starting off Right

From Volunteering by Unemployed People: a Route to Opportunity by Feliz Nyazi, pp 15-16.

Rightly or wrongly, volunteering has something of a reputation for being disorganised. This is unlikely to make it appealing to unemployed people: having already, as they see it, been rejected by society, they urgently need access to a well-organised alternative to paid work before apathy or bitterness sets in. The five organisations we studied know that it is vital to be able to adapt to the changing needs of unemployed volunteers. This requirement can be met by a well-organised system for supporting and managing the volunteers. Although each organisation does this in a different way, depending upon its culture and history, all agree on the three basic essentials: a volunteer co-ordinator, an induction procedure, and a system of support.
 
First contact
If it is true that first impressions count, organisations need to give some thought to how they handle their first contact with would-be volunteers. The organisations we studied believe that this should be made as easy and unthreatening a process as possible, whether it takes the form of a telephone conversation, an informal one-to-one chat, a formal interview or even an 'information day'.
 
BWAIC [Birmingham Women's Advice and Information Centre] recruits in a variety of ways, but all of them tend to be informal. Joan Wheeler, for example, was volunteering for another organisation when she happened to come along to a BWAIC training course; she was so impressed by the standard of BWAIC's training and the emphasis on hands-on work that she changed her allegiance. 'I found my previous voluntary work too bureaucratic by comparison,' she told us. 'It was so easy to be recruited by Carol, and the work is both unbureaucratic and effective.'
 
But Chris Conboy, a more recent BWAIC volunteer, was recruited in a completely different way: 'It was all so easy. I made a phone call, then came in for what seemed more like a chat than a interview. I never needed any qualifications -- just interest and commitment, which I had.' When we spoke to her, Chris had served her probationary period of three months, and had learned so much that she and Carol had decided she could go straight on to high-level training.
 
DPC [Dudley Peoples Centre] makes initial contact with most of its volunteers through the leaflets it distributes to every house in the neighbourhood. Of course, since it is volunteers who are delivering the leaflets there is always an opportunity for some word-of mouth persuasion; this combination is much more effective than leafleting alone, especially in a small community.
 
DPC co-ordinator Chris Bishop feels that the Centre should be open at all times so that members of the public can come in and have a chat. He told us that most of the Centre's current volunteers came initially 'just to get out of the house' or to join one of the classes on offer during the day. Chris then encouraged these visitors to find out what else is going on at the centre and how they can help.  'When I see that they're interested, I introduce them to others who are active -- and from then on, they're on board with us. There's no real formal structure.' As one volunteer told us, 'It was Chris's friendliness and the way the tutors in the classes I attended and never patronised me that made me want to stay around and get involved.'
 
The recruitment processes of FP [The Family Project] and MASG [Merseyside AIDS Support Group] are more formal, but none the less welcoming. The set procedure is a phone call, an application form, an induction day, an interview, then compulsory training. Both organisations take phone enquiries and send out application forms as quickly as possible to prevent the caller's enthusiasm from waning. Owing to the nature of FP's work, its application form asks for details of any previous convictions. But as Nin Williams told us, this is never a cut-and-dried matter. On one occasion, for example, FP recruited a volunteer who turned out to be excellent at his job, but they later found out he had omitted to mention a non-violent conviction when filling in his application form. Social Services wanted to dismiss him, but FP argued that he had merely misunderstood the form. The man kept his voluntary job...
 
The interview
Organisations should try to make their first face-to-face meeting with a potential volunteer as relaxed and enjoyable as possible. This is especially important for unemployed people, who may feel rejected as a consequence of their fruitless search for paid work and see volunteering as their last hope. 'When I interview someone, I don't ask for all their personal details,' Nin Williams of FP told us. 'What I want to know about is their motivation to volunteer, their commitment to working with families.' Nin gives an overview of the eight projects volunteers can become involved in, so the interviewee can choose the one that appeals to them most. This is better than confusing the volunteer by sending them to see all the project leaders in turn, each of whom will naturally try to convince the volunteer that their project is the most suitable for them. All the FP volunteers were happy about their first contact with the organisation:
 
'I found the whole process, right from the first interview and throughout the induction, to be very open, friendly and organised,' said one. Prospective volunteers for MASG are interviewed after they have attended an Introduction Day. This gives them a chance to get a realistic picture of the whole organisation and of the commitment required from them.

 
Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Excerpted from
Volunteering by Unemployed People: a Route to Opportunity by Feliz Nyazi, 1996, The National Centre for Volunteering. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at http://www.energizeinc.com/store/1-203-E-1

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