I enjoyed what I did, but after a few months I changed jobs and could no longer find the time and so, reluctantly, I left WERS. Just recently I found I had more time to volunteer again. I had no hesitation in getting back in touch with WERS to see what I could do for them now.
Why? Because my first experience of volunteering with them had been so positive:
- They always responded quickly. I went from initial contact to volunteering in just a few weeks.
- They had clear information on the roles available and what commitment each required, but they were also flexible when I could only volunteer once a fortnight not once a week.
- I was invited for an interview. I was a little scared. The volunteer coordinator was friendly, reassuring, had loads of time for me, answered all my questions and set me at ease.
- I was given a pack with all the policies and procedures in as well as some tips of what to do and what not to do when working with refugees. This was really valuable to me.
- They provided training that helped me understand the situation of those I was working with and the value of what I was doing. The training fitted in around work, and there were several opportunities to attend it.
- All expenses were paid as a matter of course, and were paid very promptly. I never felt bad for claiming expenses, it was just assumed that volunteers would do.
- On leaving I was sent a card thanking me for my efforts, signed by the office staff, even though I had only been there for a few months.
- After I left I was sent the regular e-newsletter, which helped me stay connected.
- When I got back in touch they treated me like an old and valued friend.
I learnt a lot from my experience at WERS, and it’s something I have carried with me to the organisations I’ve worked with since then. Sadly, I’ve found very few that couldn’t learn something from the list above.
So I’d like to say thank you to WERS for giving me such a positive experience, and to challenge everyone out there who works with volunteers to think about the following
- Would the volunteers you work with come up with a similar list of positives for your organisation?
- If not, what could you do to improve things?
- What will be the challenges and how could you get around them?
It’s that resolution time of year, so perhaps health checking your volunteering could be one of yours?