Why do people choose to volunteer? Why do we invest in a growing volunteer program? And importantly, how do we know it’s working?
Well, we know why we love having volunteers working alongside us! Volunteering creates opportunities for people to increase their participation in paid and unpaid employment and this is one way that we can help reduce social isolation and increase community connection in the local area. Our program has two main goals:
- Volunteers report feeling more connected to their communities, and
- Volunteers report feeling they have increased access to social support.
To ensure that we were achieving what we set out to, we conducted an evaluation of our volunteer program. This means we can learn from the findings and improve the program and opportunities for community members.
“[I volunteer because I felt] bored because I finished my job, and I like to know about my area that I live in and I want to know about things around my area”. – volunteer
The research looked first at why people volunteer. There were many varied reasons from being a good role model to children, to practising English, and getting to know more people. This wasn’t surprising to us as we have many volunteers doing very different work – like Jason a photographer who works with us on an ad-hoc basis, and Sharon who has been with our social support program for over 12 years, and Keith (pictured above) who you can nearly always find in our Bike Linx program in the Men’s Shed!
On the whole our volunteers were very happy with the flexibility of the work that they did and the opportunity to use and learn skills. The quote below is just one example of what you will read in the full report.
“They are very supportive with everything, even my personal life and everything, they feel like family to me, I really enjoy” – volunteer.
There of course were things that didn’t work so well, so we are carefully looking at what we can do to improve, such as improving the speed in which some changes are implemented. What was great was our volunteers also had a lot of ideas about how to make the changes that are needed – and we have already started!
You can read the full report here. But this is just the start. We will continue to monitor our progress and use the findings of this report to build an even better environment for volunteers.
If you want to find out more about volunteering with us, feel free to contact me!